High School and Middle School Students

Animals in the Classroom

There is no need to bring animals into the classroom because the best way to learn about them is to observe them in their natural habitats. By doing this, one can learn many things about their way of life–what they like to eat, how they communicate, and how they move–all just by watching them.

Respect and compassion

Many people feel a connection with animals and have compassion and respect for them. Animals are our companions at home and neighbors in the wild, and we do not want to see them hurt or suffering. One way we can show compassion for non-human animals is by not dissecting or experimenting on them in biology, anatomy, physiology, or psychology class.

Harming No Animals

Frog Pithing

Live animals are often brought into the classroom to demonstrate certain physiological reactions and processes. In many cases, these animals are severely harmed or even killed during the procedure, or after it is completed. One example is the pithing of a frog, which can occur in advanced anatomy/physiology classes. In this procedure, a pin or knife is inserted in a frog's mouth or neck and the spinal cord is severed. Then, the brain is removed. This makes the frog unable to control his/her body and supposedly unable to feel pain. Pithing always leads to the painful death of the frog, and often, it is done improperly because the students who do the killing are untrained. The frog who is still alive has the ability to feel pain including every excruciating cut into his/her skin or intestines. Many students have experienced frogs trying to free themselves from the dissection pan while being nailed to the table and dissected. Since frogs are sentient beings who feel pain, this is a traumatic procedure for many students who are faced with this assignment.

Many students are opposed to pithing a frog because they feel it is unethical to cause pain and the death of an animal who has no chance of defending him/her. If you are faced with the prospect of having to participate in pithing a frog in your anatomy or physiology class, make sure to let your teacher know that you object to it and that you want an alternative. Animalearn's The Science Bank has alternatives that you can use if you do not want to harm or kill a frog in your science class.

Psychology Experiments

In some psychology classes, teachers may use live rats to demonstrate classical and operant conditioning techniques and similar theories of learning. These rats are kept in an operant chamber, a container or cage where the rat is experimented on. The rat is trained to press a bar to obtain food and similar activities.

Many students do not want to experiment on rats because they have an ethical conflict for unnecessarily confining and using an animal as a tool. Even more disturbing is the fact that many of the rats used in psychology classes die during the procedure from neglect. Increasing the severity of the problem is what is done with the rats following the project, or when the class is over. In many cases, these rats are given or sold to pet stores where they are either used as food for snakes or other animals, or they are killed in other cruel means following the class.

If you are a psychology student with an ethical objection to being involved in rat experiments in your psychology class, make sure to inform your teacher that you do not wish to participate in the experiment and would rather use an alternative. Fortunately, there are alternatives available that allow you to learn about the classical and operant conditioning of a rat without harming a live animal. Animlaearn's The Science Bank has alternatives that you can use if you do not want to harm or kill a rat in your psychology class.

Biology and/or Genetics Experiments

Drosophila melanogaster, or the fruit fly, is often used in biological research and genetics. Since the fruit fly is a small animal with a short life cycle, cheap to purchase, and easy to keep in large numbers, they are utilized in high school science classes. Fruit flies are often used to look at genetic differences, such as the rules of genetic inheritance. In some biology classes, they are used to examine how organisms arise from a fertilized egg. Following the experiment, the fruit flies are killed with an alcohol solution.

Many students ethically object to the unnecessary killing of any living being to study science, so they do not want to participate in these types of experiments. If you do not want to participate in a fruit fly experiment, let your teacher know that you object, and contact Animalearn's The Science Bank for an alternative to fruit fly genetics experiments.

The environment

Animals are very important to their ecosystem, a web of life containing plants, animals, insects, algae, and several other living beings. When people remove animals from their natural habitats to use in study, it can disturb and affect all of the life in that ecosystem. For example, dissection is leading to large numbers of bullfrogs being removed from their wild homes, causing insect populations to grow. The increased insect population creates the need for pesticides to control the number of insects. These pesticides may harm other wildlife and pollute the environment. Protecting the environment is important not just to animals, but also to people.

Formaldehyde and other chemicals are commonly used to preserve animals for dissection, and these chemicals can damage the environment. They are unsafe for humans because they can irritate the throat and lungs and may cause cancer. When these chemicals are not disposed of in the proper way, they can pollute the environment, contaminating the soil and water bodies causing fish and other animals who live in streams, ponds, and forests to become sick and/or die.