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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Uses of Animals and Alternatives in Pre-college Education in the United States: Need for Leadership on Educational Resources and Guidelines

Lynette A. Hart, Mary W. Wood, Ana Massey and Martin Smith

Throughout pre-college education in the United States, animals, animal specimens and animals as a topic are used as teaching resources. Residential or visiting pets play a role in humane education or cross-curricular instruction. Teachers acquire and utilise non-living specimens gathered from various sources. Field trips often are oriented around animals. Elementary school animal use is largely observational; in intermediate grades, animal dissection may be featured in general science instruction. At the higher grade levels, animals may be used in science fair projects in an experimental sense. Particularly appealing to teachers is that throughout these uses, animals motivate students. The uses of animals in classrooms reflect the teachers’ interests. In the United States, the use of animals in pre-college instruction is not regulated, leading sometimes to inappropriate use. At the University of California, Davis, a pilot programme is assessing curricula, resources and a model prototype to provide administrative guidance on the use of animals in pre-college education. Appropriate animal use would be enhanced by: providing information resources with efficient links to obtaining educational materials; and establishing guidelines for animal use in pre-college education to ensure the animals’ welfare. A web-based tool provides access to resources (www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/Animal_Alternatives/main.htm).