Empowering Compassion in Education

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Picture this: a child grows up loving animals. They spend all of their free time pouring over animal entries in the encyclopedia and tear through copies of National Geographic as soon as it arrives in the mail. Then, when they enter high school, they can’t wait to start biology class, eager to show off cool facts about everything from cat domestication to whale migration and eager to learn more about the wonders of the animal kingdom.

But then, biology class didn’t quite turn out to be what they were expecting. The teacher talked about animals, but it always seemed to be in reference to some horrifying experiment where researchers gave mice cancer or took baby monkeys away from their mothers. Then came the day when the student walked into school and was greeted by a terrible sickly odor that seeped down the hallway, wafting out from the science lab, where a bucket of dead animals waited to be dissected.

The biology classroom can be a forbidding place for young animal lovers, but now, with the help of your generosity, NAVS is leveling the education playing field.

Through our biology education advancement program (BioLEAP), NAVS has been working to create a classroom experience where students can learn about the animals they love without having to contribute to those animals’ suffering.

Helping Teachers Choose Humane Solutions

NAVS offers a dissection alternatives catalog and grants of up to $1,000 to help teachers find and purchase non-animal dissection tools for their classrooms. Since the grant’s inception in 2022, NAVS has given money to 19 teachers to fund a cruelty free dissection experience for their estimated 1,500 students. Assuming that those students would have conducted dissections in pairs, you may have helped save 750 animals from dissection over the past two years.

Going Beyond the Basics to Explore the 3Rs

But our efforts don’t stop there. We believe that ending animal dissection is just the beginning. That’s why we developed Animal Use in Science: Exploring the 3Rs, a high school-level curriculum and set of lesson plans that introduces students to important concepts in animal welfare while meeting national science teaching standards.

The curriculum is based around a set of principles that call for the replacement, reduction, and refinement of animal use in research. This information is taught widely in the European Union, but not in the United States, where many students go through their science education believing that they have to experiment on animals if they want to advance in the field of biology.

Through our 8-module curriculum, which spans broad topics from environmentalism to experimental design, we weave in lessons that teach students a more compassionate way to conduct science.

The initial feedback we’ve received on the curriculum from teacher reviewers has been very exciting.  Even the self-proclaimed skeptics loved our humane lesson plans!

 “I was prepared not to like the program,” one reviewer wrote, “but as I went through it, I found myself saying, ‘My students would like this… and this… and this!’”

Creating the 3Rs curriculum has been a labor of love. With the help of your generous donations, we are preparing to launch our first pilot classrooms.

We encourage you to join us in our mission to equip the next generation of scientists with the tools they need to advocate for more compassionate research practices.

Your support matters, and every donation brings us closer to a world where no animal (or animal lover) will have to suffer in the science classroom again. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the lives of animals AND the next generation of compassionate scientists.

Donate today to become a champion for animals and for the students who love them.

The NAVS team at the National Science Teaching Association conference (l to r): Multimedia Communications Specialist Natalie Fuller, Program Manager Anna Madsen and Science Advisor Pamela Osenkowski, Ph.D.