Fourth graders in Detroit Public Schools are setting out to tackle America's stray dog epidemic.
Currently, the number of stray dogs in the U.S. is unknown, according to the ASPCA. This is largely due to the fact that no individual or organization has thus far had the resources necessary to conduct a survey of America's stray dog population.
The World Animal Awareness Society (W2As) is setting out to change that. In order to study - and ultimately develop solutions for - America's stray dog problem, W2As has launched a project called American Strays 2030. The project, which involves a crowd-funded survey of the stray dog population and a heavy emphasis on public education, is designed to address the problem on multiple fronts.
American Strays 2030 has a three-pronged plan of attack: (1) volunteers will hit the streets and count stray dogs to help the organization get a better handle on the numbers alone, (2) the group has launched a full-on campaign on social media in order to educate the public about the scope of the stray dog issue, and (3) the group has developed a lesson plan for fourth-graders that contextualizes the stray dog issue by integrating it into school curriculum.
The fourth-grade lesson plan, called "The Bones," is the brainchild of two elementary school teachers. They developed the curriculum in order to make students aware of the country's stray dog problem, and more importantly, to get them thinking critically about it in a collaborative, solution-oriented way. And that learning begins with helping students discover things that they and their families can do to rectify the stray dog problem in their very own communities.
"The Bones" lesson plans fall under an umbrella educational program called Good Pet Guardian Lesson Plans. Detroit Public Schools took the lead and launched the Good Pet Guardian Lesson Plans in 2015. W2As hopes soon to introduce the curriculum in other cities, including Memphis, New Orleans, San Antonio, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh.
Here are a few examples of how "The Bones" integrates the stray dog problem into various areas of classroom study:
History: students study the relationship between humans and dogs, and learn how that relationship has evolved over time.
Math: students learn about the basics of the U.S. economy and how the state of the economy affects the stray dog population.
Social Studies: students learn about and discuss the short- and long-term effects of the stray dog problem. They also undertake surveys of the stray dogs in their communities and present their findings to the class.
Civics: students become active problem solvers by learning about what actions to take if they find a homeless animal. In addition, they learn how to educate others in their community about stray animals.
Arts and Humanities: the students challenge themselves to see things from a different perspective by creating artwork and writings from the viewpoint of a homeless animal.
W2As might be on to something big by enlisting students' help. Tapping into a new generation's bright ideas could very well yield a novel solution to a long-standing problem. It's certainly worth a try.
"The Bones" lesson plans are free, and you can learn more about them here.