Spiders, Rats, and Education

  • Jimmy KarlanEmail author
Part of the Environmental Discourses in Science Education book series (EDSE, volume 2)


“I challenge you to prove that you can teach this white rat something.” That’s what I say to my 7th graders while handing out one rat to every pair of students. “You have 2-weeks. Go!” Years later, I challenge my students to sustain multiple generations of spiders in a completely sealed container for as long as possible. I ask students to capture and contain life, from spiders to microorganisms, and to teach mammals a new behavior. While stuck in the moral quagmire of using creatures in the name of education, I believe that these activities enhance student-directed inquiry into principles of learning and sustainability. This chapter offers the pedagogical and instructional support for facilitating both the ecological and moral aspects of these compelling challenges.


Animal education Wildlife teaching Sustainability education Problem-solving based science 


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  3. Kellert, S. R., & Wilson, E. O. (Eds.). (1993). The Biophilia hypothesis. Washington, DC: Island Press. Scholar
  4. Wells, S. M., R. M. Pyle, & Collins, N. M. (1983) The IUCN invertebrate red data book. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Antioch University New EnglandSt. KeeneUSA

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