May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Animal Welfare Education in California 4-H

Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Cheryl L. Meehan, Kelley M. Brian, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Emily Schoenfelder, Martin Smith, Steven M. Worker, and Andrea Ambrose

The 4-H Youth Development Program is a national non-formal education organization for youth ages 5-19. Through its national Science Mission Mandate, the 4-H program has the potential to help advance youth scientific literacy through programming in a wide variety of subject areas, including: plants and animals; environmental and earth sciences; biological sciences; physical sciences; and science and technology (4-H National Headquarters, 2007). 4-H also offers the opportunity for youth to explore topics outside of those covered by school-based science education. For example, each year approximately 30,000 youth enrolled in California 4-H participate in Animal Science projects that involve agricultural, service, and companion animals (California Enrolment Data, 2015). These projects engage youth in the rearing, caring, showing, and in some cases, breeding or marketing of these project animals. Animal Welfare is a topic that is relevant to all Animal Science projects; however, Animal Welfare has not yet been systematically addressed by 4-H in California through educational programming.  

The study of Animal Welfare is a rapidly growing field that engages scientists and veterinarians in research that seeks to provide better understanding of the needs and experiences of animals, and strives to find balance between these and the practices of modern animal use. Furthermore, Animal Welfare is a social and cultural issue that is increasingly being incorporated into the legal and political landscapes. There are few published studies evaluating the impacts of Animal Welfare focused educational programs on youth, but there is developing evidence that humane education programs can have positive impacts on children’s attitudes and behavior toward animals (Tardiff-Williams and Bosacki, 2015), as well as support the development of empathy toward other humans (Ascione and Webber, 1996). Thus, the development and implementation of educational programming for 4-H youth that focuses on Animal Welfare is relevant and timely.

To address this need, a multi-disciplinary team at UC Davis has developed a hands-on, inquiry-based curriculum organized as a set of Animal Welfare Proficiencies that integrate the key scientific and cultural components of Animal Welfare. The curriculum is built around the experiential learning cycle that promotes 4-H Animal Science youth participants to explore these scientific and cultural components in real-world contexts. An introductory module supports exploration of topics central to Animal Welfare and provides experiences with ethical decision making activities. The balance of the curriculum is organized into the five modules described below:

  • Level 1: Animal Behavior

Youth develop skills in behavioral observation, with the focus on animal behavior as a tool for measuring and interpreting Animal Welfare. Youth also gain an understanding of, and appreciation for, behavioral and cognitive capacities of animals.

  • Level 2: Animal Health

Youth engage in activities that introduce “Tip-to-Tail” health checks and health information documentation. Youth also practice observational skills and perform health-related data collection with their own animals.

  • Level 3: Housing and Husbandry

Youth identify basic needs that must be met through animal housing and care, as well as design enrichment plans that support enhanced welfare.

  • Level 4: Human Animal Interactions as an Important Component of Good Welfare

Youth explore human-animal interactions and the connections between these relations and the animal’s welfare.

  • Level 5: Knowledge and Skills Application

In Proficiency 5, youth move to the culminating activities of the project. They use a self-assessment tool to identify welfare risks present in their current practices and then implement strategies to improve the welfare of their animals.

The curriculum series was tested with 35 youth through a partnership with the 4-H Youth Development Program in California. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes were assessed using a retrospective survey tool and the resulting data were analyzed for significant changes over time. As a result of participating in the curriculum activities, youth reported that they had improved their abilities to collect both behavioral and health information and were significantly more likely to incorporate these practices into their daily animal care routines. Youth also reported that they were significantly more likely to consider their animals’ behavioral and physical needs when making decisions about housing and care then they were prior to participating in the program. Adult volunteers who implemented the program with youth also reported improving their knowledge about Animal Welfare concepts and indicated that they would be likely to incorporate the Animal Welfare Proficiencies into future 4-H Animal Science projects.

Providing in-depth and sustained educational experiences is an important strategy for enhancing subject-specific skills and scientific literacy (Smith & Meehan, 2014). The Animal Welfare Proficiency series is currently undergoing peer review with the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Once published*, this curriculum will provide a readily accessible resource with which educators in formal and non-formal settings can explore socially- and scientifically-relevant topics of Animal Welfare with school-age youth.

*For more information, contact Martin H. Smith (mhsmith@ucdavis.edu) or Cheryl L. Meehan (clmeehan@ucdavis.edu).

References

Emily Schoenfelder is the 4-H Youth Development Adviser, and Martin Smith is a Specialist in Cooperative Extension. Steven Worker is a 4-H Youth Development Adviser, and Andrea Ambrose, Director of Development Services. Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty is a 4-H Youth Development Adviser & County Director, and Kelley Brian is the Youth, Families and Communities Adviser. All are a part of the University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development Program. In addition, Steven, Martin, and Lynn are members of CSTA.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.