Newt's News (summer update - naughty Newt)

June 27, 2018

campus science

People always look at me sideways when I tell them that Newt, our desert tortoise, has a very big personality.

It's really true though. No, seriously. 

He hustles for food (hilarious to watch and never gets old).

He eats everything we plant for him even before we can get it into the ground. It took the students twenty minutes to dig this hole and plant these shamrocks, and he mowed them over in less than five minutes.

But we think he took his antics to a new level this week when he decided to punch a hole right through the side of his burrow.

Okay we admit, that dirt looks really soft and damp and cool, and digging in it is probably really fun on a hot June afternoon in the Las Vegas valley. But.... NEWT! Our middle school kids spent literally MONTHS building that burrow this past school year. The class, which was led by 8th grader Lynus, worked from August through April getting wildlife permits, securing materials, and doing manual labor to construct the habitat. 

We think he is probably really enjoying his new home and likely loves the opportunity to plow right through the nice soil that the students kindly piled on top of his burrow.

But you know what, Newt's right. If you're an endangered desert tortoise living in a habitat created entirely by middle school students, and you know that the STEAM elective is wildly popular and the students will be back this August with more delicious shamrocks and tons more dirt for you to dig in -- hey, why not enjoy it?!

This next school year, our middle school students will clean out the habitat, plant new tortoise-approved snacks, and install a "Newt-Cam" so we can watch his shenanigans from any digital device with web access. Our 18-19 high school freshman class has some neat ideas to integrate even more technology into Newt's dream retreat. (think thermostats and automated climate control devices and watering systems!)

At the end of the day, the whole point of our middle school STEAM elective is to teach students that captive desert tortoises are rescued by environmental groups because the urban sprawl of the Mojave Desert has left this prehistoric species fighting certain extinction. We are so fortunate that our school was tasked with being Newt's custodial guardian for the remainder of his very long life (probably another 70 years). Our enormous respect for our planet and all manners of life that live here, plus the legacy left by the future generations that are taught here at HIS, makes it our great honor to provide Naughty Newt with the best life a desert tortoise could possibly experience. So dig away, my friend!

See you all in the Fall, middle school students! Newt has plenty for you to do!

"Thanks HIS! The kids here totally rock. Please plant more shamrocks when you get a chance." ~ Newt


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