Introduction  :  Andrew Smith - About the Man   Workshop Resource  
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Andrew Smith - About the man

Andrew Smith - is a professional naturalist, published writer and educationalist. For twenty two years he was a classroom teacher. He now undertakes freelance work as a researcher, lecturer, writer, natural history film maker and presenter of the Minibeast Workshop . He is a Research Associate of the Natural History Museum, Chairman of the British Tarantula Society and elected Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society London.

As a classroom teacher he has taught in Secondary, Primary and Special Needs Schools. He left teaching in 1999 to set up the Minibeast Workshop and the Rainforest Workshop having borrowed the idea from a live animal show that he booked regularly into his school. The show, fronted by a doctor of zoology, was professional and thoroughly entertaining but Andrew could not get the presenter to focus his workshop and take into consideration specific National Curriculum science themes - such as senses, variation, classification, habitats, food chains and adaptation. Other workshops that he booked were, on the whole, over-priced disasters, with some presenters unable to hold the children's attention, displaying inappropriate giant reptiles (one handler was bitten by his python in front of Andrew's class) or demonstrating astonishing ignorance when discussing even the most basic scientific ideas. In fact it soon became obvious that most were not coming from any kind of academic background and, at best, were simply entertainers or enthusiastic exotic pet keepers. What they were not - were teachers, and what they were unable to do was deliver a science lesson.

After witnessing one handler earnestly explain to his children that reptiles are descended from dinosaurs and another, when discussing habitats, fail to mention at any point that different habitats have different animals and different plants - Andrew Smith realised that there was an opening for a professional, academic, specialist live animal workshop aimed at specifically delivering a national curriculum science lesson. And one, which did not evolve around macho men, with inappropriate giant reptiles, reinforcing the negative images that many people have of these wonderful animals.

Andrew promises you that what you will get is a professional, academic science workshop, using a wide range of exciting but appropriate exotic tropical animals that enable you - the classroom teacher - the opportunity to garner a wealth of accurate educational information to use in your classroom. By exotic we mean a wide range of tropical invertebrates (molluscs, crabs, millipedes, insects, arachnids) and a selection of carefully chosen vertebrates - such as reptiles and amphibians. We do not use birds or mammals.

He also assures you that much thought has gone into the health and safety of both the children and the animals. We do not use inappropriate giant reptiles and we never place a tarantula spider on a child's hand.

Andrew Smith is the Chairman of the British Tarantula Society. He has published three academic reference books on tarantula spiders ( The Tarantula Classification and Identification Guide 1985, Baboon Spiders 1990 and Tarantulas Spiders of Mexico and the USA 1995) and, over the years, numerous scientific papers. He has also written and directed two natural history television documentaries - Desert Tarantulas (1995) and Earth Tigers (1999).

Andrew Smith was profiled in the National Geographic programme Explorers Journal. For more information on his new documentaries and books go to

Andrew also undertakes lectures to natural history societies and colleges on the subject of tarantula spiders and the history of natural history . In other words it is not just the spiders - but the stories behind who has collected and described them over the last two hundred years.

Andrew Smith (often accompanied by the entomologist/arachnologist and workshop presenter Paul Carpenter: travels abroad every year, at the end of the rainy season, to collect and photograph tropical insects and spiders. He has travelled extensively and worked in research stations all over the world - including North America: the USA and Mexico, Central America: Costa Rica - and India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Borneo, South Africa, West Africa: Ghana, Gambia and North Africa: Morocco and Tunisia. You can read about his travels in his regular column: Andrew Smith's Tarantula Notes, at