April 1, 2012 • Posted in Other Outreach Materials
NEAVS and Friends of Washoe/Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute have developed a compassionate interdisciplinary science curriculum for grades 2-9 to introduce students to important science lessons and critical thinking about the use of animals in science.
The “Next of Kin Compassionate Curriculum” helps students develop awareness, form attitudes, and take actions to solve problems faced by chimpanzees – our next of kin – and other animals who are endangered or living in captivity.
Rachel Fouts-Carrico, author of Next of Kin, a Compassionate Interdisciplinary Science Curriculum
The curriculum takes its name from the title of Roger Fouts’ and Stephen Tukel Mills’ 1997 best-seller, Next of Kin, in which Fouts describes his work with Washoe, the first chimpanzee to acquire the ability to use American Sign Language. Roger and Deborah Fouts co-founded the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University.
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Next of Kin: What Chimpanzees Have Taught Me About Who We Are, the 1997 best-selling book featuring Washoe, the first chimpanzee to acquire the ability to use American Sign Language.
The curriculum takes many of the book’s concepts – most importantly, compassion and respect for other individuals and species – and introduces them to students through a variety of interactive, thought-provoking lessons and activities. For example, students gain first-hand awareness of what it would be like to live in captivity when they are instructed: “Think what it would be like to be trapped in an elevator for two days with food and water – but no escape.” This helps them empathize with a chimpanzee forced to “live” in a 5×5x7′ cage.
The curriculum can be used by teachers as a supplement to other units or randomly. Curriculum activities provide the students opportunities to participate in research, decision-making and cooperative problem-solving.
Fouts-Carrico, the daughter of Roger and Deborah Fouts, spent two years developing the ethical science curriculum. She holds a master’s degree in administration in supervision and curriculum development.
Comments from teachers piloting the program on both the east and west coasts have been overwhelmingly positive, according to Fouts-Carrico.