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3Rs in i3S school outreach

Ciência et al, the i3S school outreach program, also includes activities around the 3Rs and ethics of animal experimentation for high school students. The activity Animal Experimentation and Integrity was developed in the context of the H2020 project INTEGRITY as a toolkit to be used in science classes for 16-18-year-old students, by teachers, or by scientists/science communicators in school visits.

A set of slides and videos are used to introduce the topics of animal experimentation and research integrity. The activity starts with providing an overview of animal use in biomedical research, including both science and ethics.

Students get to ask questions and engage in a discussion which typically is so lively it needs to be interrupted to move to the next topic. Research integrity is presented using two animal research examples: William Summerlin’s painted mice masking a failed transplantation study and the CAMARADES work showing how (lack of) blinding impacts scientists’ evaluation of research outcomes.

The second part consists of group discussions of integrity dilemma cases, situated in a high school context. The temptation to manipulate results to gain recognition and the possibility to unconsciously bias results are also present in the student dilemmas. A final classroom discussion wraps up the 90-min activity. Material for this activity is also available as part of a larger toolkit for teaching ethics and integrity at the high school level.