Students love animals and some may already be interested in pursuing animal science careers before they step into your lab. You can help them further their interests and start to visualize career pathways.
While one student might find interest in becoming a veterinary technician, another student might be interested in becoming an animal trainer. They can become veterinary scientists, technologists, and technicians, as well as trainers or even pet groomers. The goal is to help them understand all the options and what skills and education are required.
Here are a few possible animal science careers to explore with students:
- Animal care specialist
- Veterinary technician
- Animal trainer
- Animal biotechnologist
- Agriculture and food scientist
- Wildlife biologist
- Laboratory technician
- Laboratory assistant
- And more!
Engage your students interested in animal science careers by providing a list of the many career options with brief descriptions. Then ask them to consider the ones they might be interested in. Have them write down their top three choices and ask for volunteers to share what they chose and why. This can inspire peers to think about options that they might not have considered before.
Open up animal science career possibilities with hands-on lessons
While there’s plenty to learn from listening to lectures or examining images in textbooks, engaging in hands-on learning can change the way students think about science and animal science careers.
Your time with your students on any day is limited, so you can make the best of it with hands-on activities that help them learn and apply skills that directly transfer to animal science careers. This includes exploring the inner systems of animals, dissecting preserved specimens, and using simulation tools for providing real-life care and performing physical exams.
Along with providing students valuable hands-on learning opportunities, these experiences are the next step in helping students make connections to future careers. Keep reading for engaging activities for your classroom.
Explore the inner systems of animals with anatomical models
It’s important for those in animal science careers to study animals from the inside out to understand their body systems as well as their diets, habits, and behavior.
You can start prepping your students to become well-versed themselves by exploring the inner systems of animals using detailed anatomical models. These models will give them an inside look at cows, domestic hens, and an animal cell to study organ placement, skeletal and muscle systems, composition and structure, and more.
Activity: Set up stations inside your lab with one model at each station, such as this cow reproductive organs model. Break your students into groups and assign each group one station. The group should study the model and work together to answer a set of questions that cover skeletal anatomy, organ identification, functionality, and more. Set a timer for 10 to 15 minutes for groups to answer the questions and when the time is up, have them rotate to the next station.
Dissect preserved specimens for real-life health care experiences
Dissection activities will take your students’ understanding of animals’ body systems to the next level. Students will soon learn that making incisions and touching preserved specimens is a much different experience than looking at photographs, watching videos, or using computer software.
Although it can take some time for students to become comfortable with dissection, it will give them real-life experiences that they might encounter in animal science careers.
Activity: When you combine dissection with the explorative and educational aspects of animal science, you can motivate students to look at dissecting in whole new ways. Have your students try these all-in-one kits so they can dissect fetal pigs, frogs, perch, rats, crayfish, sea star, cow eyes, and more.
These kits are a great way to introduce students to the internal and external anatomy of a preserved specimen. Pair students together and supply them with a preserved specimen kit to dissect and explore. Each kit includes the specimen, dissection tools, and an illustrated guide that makes dissecting easier.
For advanced lessons on larger animals, give students a preserved reproductive tract from a cow or a set of cow organs to dissect.
Prepare to perform physical exams with the proper tools
It’s important for students to gain the necessary skills to provide animals both big and small the care they need at any given moment. Before they step into an actual clinic, help students gain those skills by introducing them to simulation tools that provide real-world training. These tools can be used to treat animals, make incisions, and more.
By practicing skills using animal thermometers, student veterinary kits, and large animal veterinary kits, your students will be more prepared to perform routine exams, practice advanced health treatments, and conduct potentially life-saving operations in the future.
Activity: For a simulated experience in emergency care, train your students using a CPR dog. This advanced trainer allows students to practice assisted breathing on dogs. Students can also practice the appropriate rate, pressure, and position of cardiac massage and coordinate the respiratory cardiovascular functions.
Start by demonstrating how to use the CPR dog and then ask for a volunteer to show what they’ve learned with some assistance. Afterwards, have the rest of the class take turns practicing CPR compressions on the dog using the included disposable nosepieces with one-way valves. Be sure to pay attention to the small box connected to the dog that lights up when the correct ventilation volume and compression depth are applied. An audible beep and light will also indicate excessive pressure.
Reinforce connections to animal science careers
No matter what activity your students participate in, they will be able to connect to future careers and opportunities in animal science through hands-on learning.
As your students explore the inner systems of animals and apply newfound skills through the activities above, it’s important to continually reinforce connections to help them understand the pathways to fulfilling animal science careers.
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