In this week’s Science First, we want to update you on NAVS’ efforts regarding animal use in education. In the U.S. alone, tens of millions of animals are estimated to be used each year for dissection exercises. We are working hard to bring about a reduction in animal use in this area, along with an increase in the use of dissection alternatives. How are we accomplishing these goals?
We recently launched our nationwide CHOICE (Compassionate Humane Options in Classroom Education) initiative, a state-by-state effort to promote the adoption of student choice laws that will ensure that no student is punished for standing up for their right to choose humane dissection alternatives in the classroom.
We are pleased to announce that we have seen early progress in Hawaii, as that state has taken the first steps toward enacting student choice legislation. In the Senate, SB 2698 passed the Senate Education Committee last week, and two House bills (HB1968 and HB2759) have been introduced, as well. But why do we advocate for student choice? Isn’t dissection a vital part of a science education?
Simply put, no, it isn’t. From a scientific and educational standpoint, the use of animals as dissection specimens is unnecessary. Multiple studies have demonstrated that students who utilize humane alternatives to dissection perform as well as or better than students who participate in dissection exercises. Why? Because students who use dissection alternatives have the ability to work at their own pace and repeat virtual dissections numerous times, which can increase their ability to retain information.
Many virtual alternatives also include detailed background information on specimens as well as built-in self-assessments, to further enhance students’ learning experiences and help them meet the learning objectives of the exercise. Moreover, students are more willing to participate and complete these exercises when using alternatives compared to traditional dissection.
Advancements in technology are leading to the development and widespread availability of a variety of interactive virtual dissection alternatives. As animal advocates, we must do all that we can to ensure that these valuable learning tools are better integrated into classrooms—in Hawaii, and all across the United States.
If you live in Hawaii, we urge you to TAKE ACTION and ask the Hawaii legislature to vote “yes” on these bills to ensure that students are not punished for standing up for their right to choose humane dissection alternatives in the classroom.
And no matter where you live, we encourage you to visit our CHOICE webpage to learn more about what you can do to ensure that your state joins the growing list of states that have adopted student choice laws and policies.
–Dr. Pam Osenkowski, Director of Science Programs