This project is part of the Elizabeth A. Lawrence Endowed Fund Community Outreach Grant Program.
Contact person: Dr. Melissa Mazan, Dept. of Clinical Sciences, Dr. David Hernke, Dept. of Environmental and Population Health, and Laura Deschenes, Grafton Middle School Science Teacher
Project report: I am very grateful for the opportunity that the Lawrence Foundation has given me to work with middle school girls in conjunction with the STEM Club for Girls and the club leader, Mrs. Laura Deschenes, 7th and 8th grade science teacher, at the Grafton Middle School, through the project:
Understanding the human-animal bond with agricultural production animals – Using Anabel the fistulated cow to teach middle school girls about rumen anatomy, physiology, and microbiology while demonstrating the connection between farm animals and farmers.
We have now worked with two groups of middle school girls, both in 2017-2018 and this year in 2018-2019. The program has been extremely successful. We have carried out 3 activities at the Middle School and 4 activities at Tufts Cummings School, including:
|Tour of the Tufts Farm and discussion with Scott Brundage (farm manager) about the role of animals and interactions between animals and people in farm life
|Met Anabelle, our fistulated cow, and talked about the importance of fistulated cattle in ruminant medicine
|Tour of the anatomy laboratory to help understand the unique anatomy of ruminants
|Tour of the Hospital for Large Animals to see newborn goats and talk with senior student about the importance of the rumen in providing nutrition for the dam and the role of parturition in milk production
|Learned to make blood smears from cow, horse, and goat blood and looked at smears under the multi-headed scope to identify red blood cells and white blood cells and discussed their roles in carrying oxygen and fighting off infection, respectively
|Learned to perform hematocrit analysis
|Talked with pathologist (Dr. Nick Robinson) about the function of different bones in ambulation in quadrupeds.
|Taking pH of rumen fluid from Anabelle, our fistulated cow
|Observed rumen protozoal activity under the microscope and discussed production of methane and volatile fatty acids.
|Performed experiments with acidity, heat, cold, and sugar with rumen fluid to understand responses to environmental stimuli
The response from the girls has been overwhelmingly positive, and there has been enthusiasm for learning about cattle, farm life, and veterinarians. I believe that this has had an impact on the girls, and their ability to understand farm animals and farmers, and has given them an unusual basis for future understanding of important questions of welfare and policy.
About the Elizabeth A. Lawrence Endowed Fund Community Outreach Grant Program
The program awards competitive, and non-competitive grants for projects and programs involving animals and the human animal bond.
The Lawrence Fund was established by Rev. Priscilla Lawrence and her husband, Patrick Melampy, to honor the legacy of Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence, DVM, PhD, co-founder of the center and originator of the Cummings School’s Human-Animal Relationships course.