Science

Stuff It

By Emily Goodman — November 12, 2004 1 min read

Howard Whitten makes dead animals speak. It’s what a good taxidermist does—or a good science teacher, for that matter. And Whitten is both at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, Maine, using taxidermy to identify the inner workings of animals for his biology students and showing his taxidermy class how to remove them.

“I wanted a chance to work with the dead animals,” says Mallory McAvoy, a senior in the taxidermy class, one of only a few such courses in the nation. “It’s definitely something I think everyone should get to experience; it’s different and unique.” The students in the taxidermy class and after-school club spend part of their days preparing the animals, learning about their habitats, and then reconstructing them.

Students in Howard Witten's classes learn all about animals.

Whitten’s taxidermy students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the specimens he’s scraped off the highway or begged from hunters and game wardens over the years. His biology classes get to learn about animals from their actual preserved bodies, not simply from two-dimensional slides and textbooks. And with the help of Whitten’s honors research students, who take their knowledge into the community, the animals get a much wider audience. “Everything we mount here goes out to schools, museums, and nursing homes,” he says. When they donate preserved specimens to elementary school classrooms, Whitten’s honors taxidermy students teach the kids about each animal and let them help mount it.

He now has a lot more subjects to work with. This fall, the Smithsonian Institution donated more than 400 rare animal carcasses from all over the world, including mountain lions, a grizzly bear, and a bighorn sheep. When all the preserving, stuffing, and mounting are done, Whitten hopes to create an animal library, which will lend specimens for museum display, school instruction, and other educational purposes. Eventually he’d like to create a dedicated museum where the entire collection could be displayed. But for now, Whitten says, he’s just looking to pique people’s interest through taxidermy and science. “That’s what we’re supposed to do in education—get kids excited.”

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Whitepaper
How to promote equity using analogous phenomena
Having real-world connections promotes equity and enhances sensemaking for all students.
Content provided by Carolina Biological
Science Opinion Q&A Collections: Science Instruction
All Classroom Q&A posts on Science Instruction (from the past nine years!) are described and linked to in this compilation post.
3 min read
Science Low-Achieving Boys Opt for STEM Careers More Than Most Girls Do
A New York University study finds that the women who go into male-dominated science fields tend to be only the most high-achieving, but poor math and science grades and test scores don't deter young men by anywhere near as much.
3 min read
Science What Young People Don't Know About Money Could Hurt Them in This Economic Crash. How Schools Can Help
The latest Program for International Student Assessment results paint a lackluster picture of U.S. students' financial skills going into the worst economic crisis in years. But they also highlight ways schools could help.
4 min read