I’ve been considering adding some live animals to my classroom for my students to study. What should I consider before taking the leap?
Live animals definitely make science real and much more interesting than pictures, books, or videos can. You can always find a use for them when teaching the nature of science standards and often in disciplinary core ideas. Here are some things you should consider before using animals in your classroom:
First, learn your district and regional laws and guidelines for collecting, importing, transporting, and using wild and tame animals. Read NSTA’s position statement, Responsible Use of Live Animals and Dissection in the Science Classroom at https://goo.gl/b4HMcW.
- Will you be able to afford and manage caring for them?
- What contingencies do you have if they escape?
- What care will they need over the weekends?
- Will you take them home or come into the school, allow students to take them home or will custodians volunteer to care for them over breaks? (I gave nice gifts to custodial staff who did this for me.)
- What species will you get? Do you buy them or capture them from the wild?
Of course, there are many animals you can bring into the classroom. I have experience in a few species which I will list below. Ask for details about their care if you’re interested.
Very easy care:
Darkling Beetles (mealworms and superworms), flour beetles, isopods (sowbugs/pillbugs)
Stick insects (Carausius morosus), protozoans, hydra, snails, amphipods (sideswimmers/scuds) and a few other aquatic arthropods
Butterflies, moths, freshwater fish, geckos, ant colonies
Marine fish, anoles
Hope this helps!
Photo Credit: Anna Frodesiak (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons