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interactions between humans and other animals


Using the research of canine scientist MIA COBB, we have focused this teaching and learning plan on a Year 9 & 10 Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Understanding section of the curriculum. Her work on physiology, interaction of humans and dogs and animal ethics has allowed us to use real contemporary science to integrate data collection, research practices, planning and development of experiments as well as ethical questions within science into a sequence to be used by schools. Adapting this real world research into the science classroom acknowledges that "the values and needs of contemporary society can influence the focus of scientific research (VCSSU116)" and allows students to see the connections between the theoretical and practical, bringing relevance into their learning, and showing that science is applicable to multiple fields and contexts.

Animals in the current environment. Why is animal welfare an everyday concern?

Using graphs for communication. Analysing real scientific data from Mia Cobb.

Ethics within the science class. Is animal use sometimes important to further science?

Bringing it all together. The importance of the scientific method and experimental techniques.


Scaffolding is an important teaching strategy to build a student’s learning through the development of concepts and growth of scientific ideas and understanding. As a learner’s ability increases, the scaffolding provided pushes them into more challenging and interesting territory, with the end game being the student being able to master the concept individually. How we plan on scaffolding the learning through this sequence:

  1. Establish and motivate the students’ interest in the topic by beginning conversation on household pets and their care.

  2. Simplify the task, focusing on dogs to make ideas more manageable and achievable for the class. Start conversation about dog welfare and and human considerations about dogs in the workforce.  

  3. Direct the learning towards greyhounds and greyhound racing, with the controversial topic allowing students to delve into media, data and graphs on the contemporary topic. Allow students to form their own opinions on the ethical standards of greyhound racing.

  4. Students shape their understanding by deciding how people display their data through different media and methods. How can results successfully translated into scientific communication.

  5. Through investigation and research, allow students to find their own stance and viewpoint by debating the ethics involved with animals in science research. What considerations have to be taken into account when working with dogs?

  6. Model and define the final task through showing the expectations the students should have learned through the sequence.

  7. Combine and infuse all lessons learned in final practical sequence that tests students understanding of the entire topic through a practical investigation shaped by guided inquiry.  

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I would encourage people to keep asking questions, whether about animals or the world around them, and be open to changing their views and minds as more information comes to hand. So let the evidence guide your attitude and be prepared to change...

-- Canine Scientist Mia Cobb

Dr. Mia Cobb
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