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Transformative Learning at the ESC20 “Level Up Your Mind!” Gifted & Talented Conference

Last week’s participation in the ESC20 – Level Up Your Mind! Gifted & Talented Conference was not just a day filled with discussions and speeches—it transformed into a dynamic platform where middle schoolers confronted their fears head-on. Guided by Rikky Möller, CEO of Once in a Wild, this event went beyond traditional educational methods to embrace the wild, intriguing, and often misunderstood members of the animal kingdom: snakes, cockroaches, and scorpions.

The Power of Facing Fears

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As the classroom buzzed with the curious and slightly apprehensive chatter of students, Rikky began her session with a compelling narrative on the essence of fear and the importance of confronting it. Through personal anecdotes and detailed insights into the natural instincts of these often-feared creatures, she set the stage for what would become a transformative experience for the attendees. This approach not only captivated the students but also laid a strong foundation for the hands-on learning that followed.

Hands-On Learning Experience at the Gifted & Talented Conference

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The session’s highlight was undoubtedly the hands-on interaction. Our trained specialists encouraged students to step forward and hold a ball python snake, touch a Madagascar hissing cockroach, and even hold a scorpion up close. Each encounter was supported by informative commentary that illuminated each creature’s role in the ecosystem, their behaviors, and the misconceptions surrounding them. This direct interaction helped demystify these creatures, allowing students to view them in a new, more positive light.

Transformation and Engagement

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What was remarkable was the visible transformation among the students. Initial hesitance turned into fascination, and reluctance turned into eagerness to learn more. This change was not just about touching and seeing these animals up close; it was about understanding and respecting the biodiversity of our planet. It served as a powerful reminder that fear often stems from the unknown and that knowledge and exposure are key to overcoming it. This transformation aligns perfectly with the goals of the Gifted & Talented Conference, which aims to push students beyond their comfort zones and encourage personal growth.

Educational Impact and Feedback from the Gifted & Talented Conference

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In addition to personal interactions, the conference provided fun materials and follow-up resources to ensure that the lessons learned extended beyond the event. These resources were designed to encourage further exploration and discussion, both in classrooms and at home, helping to solidify the day’s messages. The feedback from students and teachers was overwhelmingly positive, with many expressing a newfound appreciation for wildlife and a better understanding of how empathy and knowledge are pivotal in conservation efforts. This feedback is a testament to the success of Once in a Wild’s mission to inspire and educate.

Conclusion: Lessons Beyond the Gifted & Talented Conference

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At Once in a Wild, our mission extends beyond entertainment. We aim to educate, inspire, and foster a deep connection between humans and the natural world. The ESC20 Gifted & Talented Conference was a testament to how interactive and compassionate education can make a real difference, encouraging a brave step forward in personal growth and understanding. The impact of this conference will likely resonate with these students for years to come, influencing their attitudes towards wildlife and conservation.

Stay tuned to our blog for more stories and educational insights from Once in a Wild. Subscribe to our newsletter to continue exploring the wild, embrace the unknown, and educate the next generation of wildlife advocates and enthusiasts. Join us on this journey to make the world a better place, one animal encounter at a time.

How We Tailored Our Approach to the Gifted & Talented Conference Audience

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Understanding the unique needs of the gifted and talented students at the conference was crucial to our approach. Gifted students often require more stimulating and challenging material to stay engaged. By incorporating live animal encounters, we provided an enriching experience that combined excitement with education, appealing to their advanced cognitive abilities and curiosity.

The Role of Interactive Learning in Gifted & Talented Education

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Gifted & Talented Student with Once in a Wild

Interactive learning, particularly involving live animals, offers a multi-sensory experience that can enhance the educational impact for gifted students. This method engages multiple learning styles simultaneously – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic – making the educational content more accessible and memorable. By directly interacting with the animals, students could form personal connections to the material, deepening their understanding and retention.

A Lasting Educational Partnership

The success of our session at the ESC20 Gifted & Talented Conference has opened doors for potential future collaborations. Schools and educational institutions are increasingly recognizing the value of experiential learning. By partnering with Once in a Wild, they can continue to provide students with unique educational experiences that foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world.


The ESC20 – Level Up Your Mind! Gifted & Talented Conference was more than just an event; it was a transformative experience for all involved. By confronting their fears and engaging with the natural world in an interactive and educational setting, students left with a newfound respect for wildlife and a deeper understanding of their own capabilities. At Once in a Wild, we are committed to continuing our mission to educate and inspire, one animal encounter at a time.

For more information about the impact of interactive learning, you can visit the National Association for Gifted Children. To learn more about our educational programs, visit our Schools Programs Page.

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