High School Students Butcher Moose in Classroom

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The teacher had a special educational permit to harvest the animal

© AK 907 Photography-ShutterstockStudents at one Alaska high school got a hands-on lesson in biology, anatomy and the circle of life when they butchered a moose in the classroom earlier this month.

According to Anchorage Daily News, Chugiak High School teacher Brian Mason brought a cow moose carcass to class in the back of his pickup truck. His students then spent the rest of the day butchering it.

The students are a part of the World Discovery Seminar (WDS) program, which is like a “school within a school.” The program's goal is to “establish a smaller learning community that creates a sense of identity, belonging, and teamwork within the WDS program, while maintaining strong ties to the CHS families of departments and programs,” according to the CHS website.

“What I try to emphasize — and the World Discovery Seminar program as a whole — is to emphasize experiential learning,” Mason said. “You can learn certainly about anatomy from diagrams and textbooks and videos but getting your hands on an animal is a big part of the science aspect of it.”

Approximately 125 students participate in WDS, which has four teachers devoted to the program. The program uses the “Paidea” method, which emphasizes Socratic learning, in-depth learning and hands-on activities to get students to become “multifaceted thinkers.”

Program participant Ryley Edwards said the hands-on program gives her and other WDS classmates a better understanding of what they’re studying.

“We do a lot of things that are more interactive than other classes,” she said. “It’s more fun for learning stuff instead of just on paper.”

Students in the program are used to unusual projects, but the moose-butchering class was especially unique. Mason said he obtained a special Cultural Educational Harvest Permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which allows for the harvest of game animals for educational reasons.

Tim Spivey with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said approximately 30 to 40 such permits are issued each year, mostly to schools and villages, but there are strict conditions on the permits.

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