Passion or compassion?

Starter activity

Attitudes to animals

  • Ask students to consider the animals on the worksheet Attitudes to animals and, in the first box under each animal, ask the students to tick or cross whether they think that animal is used in experiments.
  • In the second box under each animal, ask the students to consider how important that animal is to them, with 10 being most important and one being least important.
  • Did any students find this task difficult? Explore their reasons.
  • How were they defining 'important'?
  • Review the students' answers using the worksheet Attitudes to animals. Further information can be found in the teachers' notes.
  • Ask the students to consider:
  1. Are any of the animals that they ranked six or above used in research?
  2. How do they feel about this? Do they think it is acceptable that animals they think are important are used in research?
  3. How else do humans use or interact with these animals?

Learning styles: visual, auditory.

Main activity

Animals used in research

  • Split the class into four groups and give each group a card explaining their area of research - medical research, veterinary research, safety testing and fundamental research (see worksheet Expert labels). Give each group a factsheet relating to their area of expertise (see Downloads tab) and any relevant pictures (see collection of images Animals used in research). Ensure that each member of the group actively participates and becomes an expert in that area of animal research.
  • Ask each group to provide a short presentation that summarises what they have found out. Alternatively, they could provide a poster that can be displayed.
  • Jigsaw the class by giving each member of each group a different letter (see worksheet Jigsaw labels) and then reorganise the groups according to the letters that they now have, so the resulting groups have one expert from each field.
  • Ask the students to complete the Animals used in research: quiz. Are there any questions they can't answer? Where might they find this information?
  • Ask the new groups to consider the questions posed in the worksheet Taking part in the debate.
  • Ask individual group members to provide a 'snapshot' of some of the issues they discussed.

Learning styles: visual, auditory, kinaesthetic.

Plenary activity

Reflection of attitudes

  • Revisit the worksheet Attitudes to animals and ask the students to re-rank the animals in terms of importance, to see whether their attitudes have changed as a result of the knowledge that they have acquired during the main activity.
  • Have they ranked the animals differently?
  • Did they change how they defined 'important' or change their views about the use of animals in research? If so, how?
  • Ask the students to consider any possible alternatives to using animals in all of the areas considered.

Learning styles: visual, auditory.


  • The main activity allows for group work and the factsheets can be ranked in order of most difficult to easiest as follows: fundamental research, safety testing, medical research, veterinary research.
  • The jigsawing activity then reallocates the whole group into mixed ability smaller groups.
  • The worksheet What do you think of animal experimentation? can be used as an alternative to Taking part in the debate.


Completion of Animals in research: quiz in small groups.