Every year, I participate in a STEM event. My students help me drag hissing cockroaches to the stage and we stand around with them crawling up our arms and watch.
Some people take off running. Seriously, literally. I have older students that ain't scared of anything, grew up in rough neighborhoods and take care of business. But they will back up on a hissing cockroach. But here's the thing. At this STEM event, (almost) everyone touches one.
The most fearless are the little girls. No joke. The cuter, the more fearless. They walk up and put their hand out and we plop a giant hissing bug in it. And they just stare.
It's the adults who are terrified. They will pull a kid in front of them. Then the kids start daring them to hold one, start daring each other. Eventually, most of them touch one. They start by petting one with their finger. It's shiny and smooth, doesn't bite or sting. Then they might put one on their sleeve. And then, holy shit yeah, hold one in their bare hand.
Bug on skin.
We're learning and facing fears. It's creepy, it's fun. It's Fear Factor, sort of. If everyday could be like that.