A Story of Chicks, Science Fairs and the Ethics of Students’ Biomedical Research

  • Sophia (Sun Kyung) JeongEmail author
  • Deborah J. Tippins
  • Shakhnoza Kayumova
Part of the Environmental Discourses in Science Education book series (EDSE, volume 2)


Here, we tell the story of Jenna, a high school student who presents her research and poster, “The Effects of Alcohol on Chicks,” at a state science fair. We highlight a conversation that took place as Jenna discussed her research with science educators. The chapter centers on this case narrative and illustrates the importance of critically engaging youth in constructive discussions about human use of animals in research and the controversial nature of ethics pertaining to such practices. It reminds us that scientific advancements are meaningless if we begin to consider these endeavors superior to ethics and morals. The case is followed by a reaction from a science educator who views the story by feminist critique. As Jenna’s case shows, educators are responsible for creating spaces for these types of discussions. We must guide students to reflect and evaluate society’s over-emphasis on the primacy of humans over other animals, and consider how such notions impact the negotiations of what are ethical, human and moral decisions.


Science education Ethics Animal welfare Science fairs Nature of science 


  1. Anderson, E. (2004). Uses of value judgments in science: A general argument, with lessons from a case study of feminist research on divorce. Hypatia, 19(1), 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Animal Welfare Act. (2013a). 7 U.S.C. §§ 2131–2159 (U.S. Government Printing Office).Google Scholar
  3. Animal Welfare Act. (2013b). 9 C.F.R., Part 2. § 2131 et seq (U.S. Government Printing Office).Google Scholar
  4. Animal Welfare Institute. (1969). More cruelty among teenaged science students. Information Report, 18, 2–3.Google Scholar
  5. Arluke, A., & Hafferty, F. (1996). From apprehension to fascination with ‘dog lab’: The use of absolutions by medical students. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 25(2), 201–225. doi: 10.1177/089124196025002002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ATLA Alternatives to Laboratory Animals. (2014). Welcome to ATLA. Retrieved from
  7. Balas, A. K. (1998). Science fairs in elementary school. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education (ERIC Document No. ED432444).
  8. Balcombe, J. (2000). The use of animals in higher education: Problems, alternatives, and recommendations. Washington, DC: The Humane Society Press.Google Scholar
  9. Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Towards an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bishop, L. J., & Nolen, A. L. (2001). Animals in research and education: Ethical issues. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 11(1), 91–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boslaugh, S. (2016). Anthropocentrism. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from
  12. Braidotti, R. (2006). Transpositions: On nomadic ethics. Polity.Google Scholar
  13. Corbett, J. B. (2006). Communicating nature: How we create and understand environmental messages (p. c2006). Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cutraro, J. (2011). Science fair as a family affair. Science News For Kids, p. 3.Google Scholar
  15. Food Security Act of 1985, 17 U.S.C. § 1751 et seq (1985).Google Scholar
  16. Fox, M. W., & Ward, M. A. (1977). Are science fairs fair to animals? Science Teacher, 44(6), 31–33.Google Scholar
  17. Gaard, G. (1993). Living interconnections with animals and nature. Ecofeminism: Women, Animals, Nature, pp 1–12.Google Scholar
  18. Gaskell, G., Einsiedel, E., Hallman, W., Priest, S. H., Jackson, J., & Olsthoorn, J. (2005). Social values and the governance of science. Science, 310(5756), 1908–1909.
  19. Gaukroger, S. (2002). Descartes’ system of natural philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scholar
  20. Gergen, K. J. (1982). Toward transformation in social knowledge (p. c1982). New York: Springer. Scholar
  21. Gergen, K. J. (1999). An invitation to social construction. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Gergen, K. J. (2009). An invitation to social construction (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  23. Gergen, K. J. (2015). An invitation to social construction (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  24. Grafton, T. S. (1980). The challenge and motivation of students through live animal projects. In H. McGiffin & N. Brownley (Eds.), Animals in education: Use of animals in high school biology classes and science fairs (pp. 99–105). Washington, DC: The Institute for the Study of Animal Problems.Google Scholar
  25. Harding, S. (1996). Rethinking standpoint epistemology: What is ‘strong objectivity’? In E. F. Keller & H. E. Longino (Eds.), Feminism and science (pp. 235–248). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Health Research Extension Act of 1985, Pub. L. 99—158, “Animals in Research” § 495 et seq (Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, 2015).Google Scholar
  27. Hillaby, J. (1970, January 9). Sanctified torture. New Scientist, p. 69.Google Scholar
  28. Hug, B. (2008). Re-examining the practice of dissection: What does it teach? Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(1), 91–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. (2015–2016). International rules and guidelines 2016. Retrieved from
  30. Jacobsen, M. H. (2008). Encountering the everyday: An introduction to the sociologies of the unnoticed. Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  31. Kayumova, S., & Tippins, D. (2016). Toward re-thinking science education in terms of affective practices: reflections from the field. In Cultural Studies of Science Education. doi: 10.1007/s11422-015-9695-3.Google Scholar
  32. Longino, H. (1990). Science as social knowledge. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Lucaj, P., Mueller, M. P., & Tippins, D. J. (2015). A life in relation to the broader stroke of education. In M. P. Mueller & D. J. Tippins (Eds.), Ecojustice, citizen science and youth activism: Situated tensions for science education (Vol. 1, pp. 1–7). Dordrecht: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-11608-2_1.Google Scholar
  34. Mannheim, K. (1936/1985). Ideology and utopia: Introduction to the sociology of knowledge. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  35. Martin, E. (1987). The woman in the body: A cultural analysis of reproduction. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  36. Martusewicz, R. A., Edmundson, J., & Lupinacci, J. (2011). Ecojustice education: Toward diverse, democratic, and sustainable communities. New York: Rutledge. doi: 10.4324/9781315779492.Google Scholar
  37. Miller-Spiegel, C. (2004). The use of animals in national high school student science fair projects in the United States. ATLA, Alternatives To Laboratory Animals, 32(Suppl 1B), 495–500.Google Scholar
  38. Morrison, A. R. (1993). Biomedical research & the animal rights movement: A contrast in values. American Biology Teacher, 55, 204–208. doi: 10.2307/4449633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Institutes of Health. (2015). Public health service policy on humane care and use of laboratory animals. [NIH Publication No. 15-8013]. Bethesda: Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.Google Scholar
  40. National Research Council. (1996). Guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  41. NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators. (2014).
  42. Oakley, J. (2009). Under the knife: Animal dissection as a contested school science activity. Journal for Activist Science and Technology Education, 1(2), 5967.Google Scholar
  43. Orlans, F. B. (1993). In the name of science: Issues in responsible animal experimentation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Prizes for Torture. (1969, May 10). The New York Times.Google Scholar
  45. Rowan, A. N. (1984). Of mice, models, and men: A critical evaluation of animal research. Albany: State University of New York Press, c1984.Google Scholar
  46. Schutz, A. (1967). The phenomenology of the social world. Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Schwab, J. J., & Brandwein, P. F. (1962). The teaching of science: The teaching of science as enquiry. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Shume, T. (2015). Put away your No. 2 pencils – Reconceptualizing school accountability through EcoJustice. In M. P. Mueller & D. J. Tippins (Eds.), EcoJustice, citizen science and youth activism: Situated tensions for science education (pp. 19–32). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Scholar
  49. Singer, P. (1976). Animal liberation: Toward an end to man’s inhumanity to animals. London: Cape.Google Scholar
  50. Singer, P. (2004). The animal liberation movement (p. c1985). Nottingham: Russell Press.Google Scholar
  51. Society for Science & the Public. (2000–2015). Mission and history. Retrieved from
  52. Society for Science & the Public. (2015). Intel Science Talent Search 2016 rules and entry instruction. Retrieved from
  53. Solot, D., & Arluke, A. (1997). Learning the scientist’s role: Animal dissection in middle school. Journal Of Contemporary Ethnography, 26(1), 28–54. doi: 10.1177/089124197026001002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stanisstreet, M., Spofforth, N., & Williams, T. (1993). Attitudes of undergraduate students to the uses of animals. Studies In Higher Education, 18(2), 177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Strauss, R. T., & Kinzie, M. B. (1991). Hi-tech alternatives to dissection. American Biology Teacher, 55, 154–157. doi: 10.2307/4449249.Google Scholar
  56. Tant, C. (1992). Projects: Making hands-on science easy. A guide to science project management with stress prevention for teachers & parents. Angleton: Biotech Publishing.Google Scholar
  57. Tsuzuki, M., Asada, Y., Akiyama, S., Macer, N., & Macer, D. (1998). Animal experiments and bioethics in high schools in Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. Journal of Biological Education, 32(2), 119–126. doi: 10.1080/00219266.1998.9655607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wadman, M. (2008). Medical schools swap pigs for plastic. Nature, 453(7192), 140–141. doi: 10.1038/453140a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Weigand, A. (2008). Becoming human: Stories of animals and ethics in biomedicine Temple University.Google Scholar
  60. Zeidler, D. L., & Nichols, B. H. (2009). Socioscientific issues: Theory and practice. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(2), 49–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zeidler, D. L., Walker, K. A., Ackett, W. A., & Simmons, M. L. (2002). Tangled up in views: Beliefs in the nature of science and responses to socioscientific dilemmas. Science Education, 86(3), 343–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophia (Sun Kyung) Jeong
    • 1
    Email author
  • Deborah J. Tippins
    • 1
  • Shakhnoza Kayumova
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Dartmouth, STEM Education & Teacher DevelopmentUniversity of MassachusettsDartmouthUSA

Personalised recommendations