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Llama livens up learning at Kelso

'Teaser' visit provides Science Week highlight

As Kelso Elementary’s youngest students file into the gym, Teaser, a 14-year-old therapy llama, is waiting for them.

The children gasp and point with excited looks on their faces. One little voice cries out, “But animals can’t be in school!”POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Kelso Elementary student Mylie Chilson gets a wooly hug from Teaser the llama.

On Tuesday, April 28, every student at the school in Boring got a chance to visit with and ask questions about Teaser. A resident of Hidden Oaks Llama ranch in Estacada, Teaser was brought in by Sherri Tallmon for Kelso’s third-annual Science Week.

“We’re really just trying to tie it back to real life,” said Kelso Principal Katie Schweitzer. “To show students that (science) is really, really useful and it’s really, really fun.”

Throughout the week, representatives from PGE, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Sandy Police Department, Sandy Fire District, OMSI and the Oregon Humane Society visited students to demonstrate how science is applied in life outside school.

“Almost all of them have had opportunities for kids to ask a lot of questions,” Schweitzer said, adding that it may be one of the best parts of the week because students can conduct their own scientific investigation and learn things they are curious about. “You don’t always get a chance to ask why a llama’s tail looks like that.”POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Vedder Schulfer and Jesus Castillo enjoy the feel of a blanket made from llama wool.

In addition to questions about Teaser’s hair and appearance, including, “Why does one of his feet not match?” in reference to the difference in wool coloring on his legs, students asked where Teaser lives, what sound he makes and if people ride him.

Teaser even took his turn with the microphone and demonstrated his humming dialogue for students.

Tallmon’s answers concerning Teaser’s height (5-and-a-half feet), weight (300 pounds) and how much he can carry on his back (about 40 pounds) produced exclamations of “Wow!” from the surrounding kindergarten, first- and second-grade students.

“They’re easily impressed,” Schweitzer said with a laugh.

Science Week ended with Thursday night’s Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) Night. POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Sherri Tallmon of Estacada brought her llama Teaser to Kelso Elementary School in Sandy for a recent visit.

Students from the Sandy High School robotics club attended the event and brought robots to share with students.

Science projects from Kelso classrooms were on display, and students participated in carnival games with scientific explanations and the school’s annual Pinewood Derby, where students race handmade cars around an outdoor track.

While students were broken up into groups for some of the week’s presentations — older students talked to Sandy Police while younger students got explanations of how biology is used at the Oregon Humane Society — everyone got a chance to visit with Teaser. POST PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Kelso teacher Lisa Mitchells first grade class lines up to meet Teaser the llama during a recent visit by Sherri Tallmon of Hidden Oaks Llama Ranch in Estacada.

“You can’t bring a llama into a school and not let everybody see him,” Schweitzer said.