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.”

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
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
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Science Quiz Quiz Yourself: How Much Do You Know About STEM Best Practices?
Quiz Yourself: How well do you know STEM best practices?
Science Opinion Working With the Likes of Lego, Disney, and Lucasfilm to Engage Students in STEM
Rick Hess speaks with FIRST's Erica Newton Fessia about inspiring young people's interest in STEM using team-based robotics programs.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
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
Improve language arts skills through science
In this white paper, learn how science can be an important part of the day by using a curriculum that includes communication, collaborati...
Content provided by Carolina Biological
Science Leader To Learn From A Place Where Teachers Take the Lead on Science Curriculum
Anna Heyer has empowered teachers to shape the science curriculum in an Arizona district, and has expanded time spent on science.
7 min read
Anna Heyer, District Science Specialist for the Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson, Ariz.
Anna Heyer, science specialist for the Flowing Wells Unified School District in Tucson, Ariz.
Caitlin O'Hara for Education Week