Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Animals in Research—Right or Wrong?

Carol Houck


Students research and discuss a sensitive or controversial issue and attempt to make a decision based on group findings.


The student writes text, notes, outlines, comments, and observations that demonstrate comprehension of content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student uses responsive listening skills, including paraphrasing, summarizing, and asking questions for elaboration and clarification.

The student speaks for various occasions, audiences, and purposes, including conversations, discussions, projects, and informational, persuasive, or technical presentations.

The student knows that special care must be taken in using animals in scientific research.


-Research materials
-Internet access
-Role-playing descriptions


1. A class discussion about some sensitive issues may be necessary prior to this activity. Topics may include the use of nuclear power or the cutting of rain forests. Students should be led through various points of view and a conclusion should be drawn based on classroom input.

2. The role playing descriptions should be copied, cut out, and distributed on the day of the activity.


-Students will research animal testing in scientific research.
-Students will use technology to research animal testing in scientific research.
-Students will utilize reading and writing skills to aid in concept research.
-Students will utilize communication skills and demonstrate decision making skills.

1. Discussions will be held in groups of four. Each group will have students take on the role of four different participants: research scientist, teacher, animal rights activist, and cosmetics manufacturer. The description of each role is listed below. Copy and distribute these descriptions to each group.

a. Research Scientist: Dr. Rule. Conducts research for the development of new materials to be used in vision care. Dr. Rule uses animals without harming them to test these materials. Dr. Rule has been doing research for many years and is an outstanding scientist. Dr. Rule is very well respected in the field of vision and believes strongly that animal research is necessary for conducting proper testing. Some of Dr. Rules' co-workers disagree. Many of the products that come from Dr. Rules' lab are used by many people in the community.

b. Teacher: Professor Quail. Teaches science at the local middle school and teaches a class in biology offered through the university. Professor Quail has never used animals in his classroom and does not promote the use of animals for school dissections. Professor Quail has two dogs and a cat and can not imagine using them for research. However, Professor Quail does use products at home that have been animal tested. Recently, Professor Quail's middle school class discussed the topic of animal research; the students were very concerned. Professor Quail would like to express his student's concerns and help put a stop to animal research.

c. Animal Rights Activist: Pat Edge. Works as an accountant for a local bank, but is very active in animal rights and wants to stop using animals in research. Pat has been involved in animal rights for several years and has attended several conventions to try to make people aware of the issue. Pat has three children and a dog. Pat does not like cats, but does not wish to see them used for product testing. Pat checks to make sure that all of the products at home have not been animal tested. Pat's children are also against animal testing. Pat is not a vegetarian.

d. Cosmetics Manufacturer: Mary Cruise. Owns and manages a lucrative cosmetics factory. Her products are sold worldwide and are considered to be some of the best on the market. Mary has all of her products tested on animals before they are allowed to be used by people. Over the years, Mary has been able to prevent people from having rashes and severe allergic reactions by first testing her products on animals. Mary feels that the use of animals makes safer products that people can trust. Her excellent sales over the years seem to support this. Mary is outraged by the activists who picket in front of her business. Mary keeps the laboratory animals well fed and housed in clean cages within the lab. If she is no longer able to test her products, she will lose business and be forced to lay off many of her employees.

2. Have students select a role and develop an argument for or against animal testing based on the description.

3. Using research materials, allow students to research the issue to help support their argument. Students should answer the following questions based on their role description.
a. How do I feel about animal testing?
b. What made me feel this way?
c. What would make me change my mind?
d. How can I convince others to change their minds?

4. Have students assemble in their groups of four and discuss the issue. Each student should have an opportunity to make a statement. Students should be encouraged to be open minded and to take notes if necessary.

5. After 15-20 minutes of discussion, have students answer the following questions.
a. Was I able to convince others of my opinion?
b. Did my opinion change?
c. What did I learn from this activity?
d. List three reasons why animal testing may be necessary.
e. List three reasons why animal testing may not be necessary.

6. Discuss the results of this activity with the students and assess their understanding.


The following questions may be used to assess students.

1. Which of the following may be a valid reason for conducting animal testing in scientific research?
a. production of new medicines
b. development of surgical techniques
c. testing foods and drugs
d. all the above

(answer d: These are all valid reasons for possible animal testing.)

2. Animal testing may be necessary because
a. animals are cheap and easy to purchase.
b. animals do not need to be treated well.
c. animal testing may save human lives.
d. animal testing is fun and inexpensive.

(answer c: Animal research may produce solutions to protecting or saving human lives.)

Group Work Assessment
Students may be assessed on the progress within their groups. The following criteria may be used for assessment
1. Did I research my topic?
2. Did I present my findings?
3. Did I listen to others in my group?
4. Did I discuss my results with the class?
(The teacher may want to lead a discussion with the class prior to the activity concerning what elements constitute high quality in each of the criteria. This could be in the form of a rubric.)

In what situations would you consider animal testing to be unnecessary?

In what situations would you consider animal testing to be necessary?


-Take a schoolwide poll to see how other students feel about this subject.
-Maintain a scrapbook of articles found on this subject.
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