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The Use of Organisms in Secondary Science Education.

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Presentation on theme: "The Use of Organisms in Secondary Science Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Use of Organisms in Secondary Science Education

2 Dealing with Live organisms Check district & school policies prior to bringing critters into the class. Inquire about student allergies. Model and reinforce proper handling and care of organisms. It is illegal for you to bring vertebrates (other than fish) caught in the wild into your classroom.

3 Issues to consider if you choose to have animals in your classroom… What happens to the animals over breaks? How will you handle student mistreatment of the animals? What are the consequences of an animal escaping? Who will pay for food and supplies? What will you do if a student is injured?

4 With all of these issues, why bother keeping animals? Important lessons regarding stewardship. Increases student interest and investment in science. Improves student performance. Reflects the nature of biology: –“Biology is about life so a biology classroom has to have living things; otherwise, it’s not biology” – H.S. bio teacher

5 A word on microorganisms… Before culturing microorganisms –Review school and district policy –Establish procedures against exposure –Consider disposal options Autoclave Pressure Cooker 10% bleach solution; 24 hrs

6 Should dissections be used in life science education? OR Should we kill animals for high school science? Pedagogical & ethical considerations Source material: –De Villiers, R., & Monk, M. (2005). J. Curriculum Studies, 37, 583-600. –Hug, B. (2005). J. Curriculum Studies, 601-606.

7 Discussion Questions What are the benefits of dissection? Is there a contradiction in the proposal to kill and cut-up animals to study life? What may be the unintended messages of dissection (hidden curriculum)?

8 History of Dissection Dissection dates back at least to Aristotle’s work on embryology. 1540: Vesalius (one of the most noted anatomists) benefited from a Papal decision to allow dissections of the bodies of “sinners condemned to hell.” Early 1900s: Dissection becomes standard part of science education (not just medical training). 1980s: Mounting pressure to use dissection alternatives.

9 Recent History Many animal advocacy groups vocally oppose dissection e.g., PETA (

10 Dissection Alternatives Low-tech –Preserved specimens –Books –Charts –Slides/pictures –3-D Anatomical models High-tech –Video –Online Activity –Computer Simulations

11 Dissection simulations DissectionWorks comprises five interactive, computer- dissection simulations, including those of a frog, crayfish, perch, and fetal pig. The Digital Frog is a fully interactive CD-ROM that allows students to explore the frog through three seamlessly linked modules—dissection, anatomy, and ecology. www.digitalfrog.comThe Digital Frog Body Works offers a fascinating computer program that explores the body’s systems, structure, and functions. www.denoyer.comBody Works CatLab is a fully interactive, multimedia dissection of a cat. Froguts is an online dissection of a frog using Flash 5 and recycled frogs. Net frog 2002 provides step-by-step dissection guidance or replacement.

12 What does the research say re: dissections & alternatives? Not an overwhelming research base Summary conclusions: –Students perform equally well on declarative knowledge assessments –Guided learning (video or simulations) prior to dissection enhances student learning and decreases student frustration –Interactive experiences (dissection or simulation) benefit from self-pacing

13 Pragmatic Considerations (Advantage: Dissection Alternatives) Time Costs Student frustration Procurement & disposal

14 Disadvantages of Dissection Alternatives Technology concerns Availability Contextual learning Realism Dissecting skills

15 Ethical Considerations Argument of necessity (Do we need to do dissections for desired pedagogical outcomes?) Religious arguments (Desecration of a once-living body) Rights argument (Do humans have the right to kill animals?)

16 Questions every teacher considering dissection or alternatives should ask… Can dissection foster disrespect for life? Can dissection increase student interest in science? How should ethical issues raised by handled? If you choose dissection, what kind of policy should you have for conscientious objectors?

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