Information for Parents and Teachers
Welcome to the People-Pet Partnership's
Learning and Living Together: Building
the Human-Animal Bond educational
website. We know you will enjoy helping
your children explore this site to learn
more about pets and their care. It is
extremely important that children
understand their responsibility in the
proper care of their pets and other
living things. Developing empathy toward
animals will, in turn, help them become
more responsible people.
The activities on the People-Pet
Partnership website are aligned with the
National Science Education Standards
(NSES). The following is important
information about the NSES from the
National Science Teachers Association
and the National Research Council.
Development: The NSES were released in 1995 by the National Research
Council (NRC), which is the principal operating agency of the national
Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute
of Medicine. They were developed over four years by groups of scientists,
teachers, and other educators appointed by the NRC. The standards were
reviewed by 22 science education and scientific organizations, and by over
18,000 scientists, science educators, teachers, school administrators, and
parents. The national consensus which resulted from this process gives the
NSES a special credibility.
Description of Standards:According to the NRC, the Standards define
the science content that all students should know and be able to do, and
provide guidelines for assessing the degree to which students have learned
that content. The Standards also describe the teaching strategies, teacher
training, and support necessary to deliver high quality science education to
all students. In addition, the Standards also describe policies needed to
bring coordination, consistency, and coherence to science education
There are six science standards.
describe the knowledge and abilities students
need to develop, from kindergarten through high school, in order to
become scientifically literate. (This is the Standard that is aligned
with the Pet Partnership Program.)
describe the skills and knowledge teachers
need in order to teach science well. Effective teachers of science have
theoretical and practical knowledge about student learning, science, and
provide criteria to judge progress across
the system toward the science education vision of scientific literacy
for all. They can be used in preparing evaluations of students,
teachers, programs, and policies.
Professional Development Standards
make the case that becoming an
effective teacher of science is a continuous process, stretching from
pre-service throughout one’s professional career.
address the need for comprehensive and
coordinated science experiences across grade levels and support needed
by teachers in order for all students to have opportunities to learn.
call on all parts of the educational system –
including local districts, state departments of education, and the
federal education system – to coordinate their efforts and build on one
Why Science Standards are Needed:
- Understanding science offers personal fulfillment and excitement.
- Citizens need scientific information and scientific ways of thinking
in order to make informed decisions.
- Business and industry need entry-level workers with the ability to
learn, reason, think creatively, make decisions, and solve problems.
- Strong science and mathematics education can help our nation and
individual citizens improve and maintain their economic productivity.
Guiding Principles Behind the Standards:
- Science is for all students.
- Learning science is an active process.
- School science reflects traditions of contemporary science.
- Improving science is part of system-wide education reform.
Vision of the Standards:All students, regardless of age, gender,
cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and
motivation in science, should have the opportunity to attain high levels of
The Content Standard that is described above is one of the six National
Science Education Standards. It is the most appropriate Standard for
aligning the People-Pet Partnership activities. The Content Standard is
divided into eight categories, one of which is the traditional school
science content of life science.
Elementary school students are good observers so this is an appropriate
age for them to use their powers of observation to discover similarities and
differences in the characteristics and behavior of living organisms.
Children of this age are gradually developing an understanding of the
interactions between organisms and between these organisms and their
environment. Giving children direct experience with living organisms is
desirable at home and at school. Primary age students are very egocentric
but they are beginning to recognize the needs of other people and of animals
and plants. The Life Science Standard for grades K-4 focuses on three
aspects of living organisms: their characteristics, their life cycles, and
The People-Pet Partnership activities are aligned to the following
fundamental concepts and principles that underlie the NSES Content Standard
for Life Science:
1. The Characteristics of Organisms
- Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water,
and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light. Organisms can
survive only in environments in which their needs can be met. The world
has many different environments, and distinct environments support the
life of different types of organisms.
- Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different
functions in growth, survival, and reproduction. For example, humans
have distinct body structures for walking, holding, seeing, and talking.
- The behavior of individual organisms is influenced by internal cues
(such as hunger) and external cues (such as a change in the
environment). Humans and other organisms have senses that help them
detect internal and external cues.
2. Life Cycles of Organisms
- Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born,
developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying. The details
of this life cycle are different for different organisms.
- Plants and animals closely resemble their parents.
- Many characteristics of an organism are inherited from the parents
of the organism, but other characteristics result from an individual’s
interactions with the environment. Inherited characteristics include the
color of flowers and the number of limbs of an animal. Other features,
such as the ability to ride a bicycle, are learned through interactions
with the environment and cannot be passed on to the next generation.
3. Organisms and their Environment
- All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food.
Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
- An organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that
organism’s environment, including the kinds of and numbers of other
organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the
physical characteristics of the environment. When the environment
changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce, and others die
or move to new locations.
- All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some
of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms,
whereas others are beneficial.
- Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans
change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental
for themselves and other organisms.
The National Science Education Standards are not a federal mandate. They
were not developed by the federal government. They are the basis upon which
states have been developing their state science standards. For more
information about the science standards for your state, visit the website of
your state’s Department of Education (often listed under the State
Superintendent of Public Instruction).
For more information about the National Science Education Standards,
visit the National Academy Press website:
www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses. You also may be interested in
general science education information from the website of the National
Science Teachers Association:
We hope you and your children enjoy the People-Pet Partnership activities
and that our web site will help you and your children build a fun and
meaningful relationship with your pets.
To go to the
This project was sponsored by The
Kenneth A. Scott
Charitable Trust, A KeyBank Trust