College of Veterinary Medicine

The People-Pet Partnership

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 programs.

There are six science standards.

  • Content Standardsdescribe 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.)
  • Teaching Standardsdescribe 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 science teaching.
  • Assessment Standardsprovide 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 Standardsmake the case that becoming an effective teacher of science is a continuous process, stretching from pre-service throughout one’s professional career.
  • Program Standardsaddress 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.
  • System Standardscall 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 another’s strengths.

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 scientific literacy.

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 their environments.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Plants and animals closely resemble their parents.
  3. 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

  1. All animals depend on plants. Some animals eat plants for food. Other animals eat animals that eat the plants.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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: 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 online curriculum

This project was sponsored by The Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, A KeyBank Trust

Last Edited: Feb 04, 2009 3:46 PM   

People Pet Partnership,  PO Box 647010 , Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7010, 509-335-7347, Contact Us Safety Links