Primates at TMSE

By Joyia Pittman

Characteristics of Primates (1)This week’s lesson was a learning experience not just for the kids, but for me as well. This week I gave a lesson on the characteristics of primates. I received a very good reaction from the students once I told them what the topic was going to be. I know they were more excited about the activity than the actual lesson because they could not stop asking about it.

Regardless, their excitement helped me to teach better because I knew they were actually interested in the topic.


I always like to ask the students a lot of questions to make sure I am engaging them and also to be sure they are paying attention. They already knew so much about this topic so the lesson seemed to flow very well. We talked about what makes a primate and the differences in apes and monkeys. About midway through my lesson, a student raised their hand and commented that he did not believe he came from apes. This is where the learning experience came in for me. For some reason I expected this comment to come up in the evolution lecture, so I have to say that I was not prepared for what the student said. However, I think the situation was handled very well by myself and my fellow classmates. We wanted to make sure the student realized we are only presenting what the scientific community has to say about primates. We are not, in any way, trying to convince him that what he believes is wrong. I think with the help of my classmates we were able to convey that message while remaining sensitive to his beliefs.

2Other than that, the lesson went fairly smoothly. I concluded my presentation by talking about primate diet which lead right into the lesson activity. For the lesson activity, the students were to scavenge the classroom for fruit, veggies, and insects.

Characteristics of Primates (1)2


The objective was to gather as many calories as possible. The only catch was that they could not walk around as humans. They had to get on all fours and could only use one hand to gather the food. They seemed to really enjoy this part! I think they really got a kick out of being able to crawl on the floor and be silly. As a special treat, we gave the students dried crickets and worms.

Some students did not want to eat them, but most found them to be really delicious!


Overall, I think the lesson went really well and I think the students enjoyed it. I know in teaching there will be moments when unexpected things happen and you just have to adjust. If there is one thing I have learned from my time at TMSE, that would be it. The students at TMSE are so bright and have been a joy to get to know and teach.

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