Teaching Methods

Together we will be asking questions about the world around us while practicing science skills.

The process of investigation and explanation is just as important as knowing "the" answer. 

We will be discovering "how to find out" and experimenting/investigating the way the world works, rather than just memorizing facts.

Our K-4 STEM curriculum has been crafted to:

1) Reinforce grade-appropriate skills such as:

   --Observing and interacting with the environment
   --Hands on learning about caring for animals
   --Journal observations using their best handwriting, spelling and drawing
   --Weighing and measuring a rabbit family then calculating the mean, median, mode.
  --Designing an outdoor hutch that will help a rabbit stay cool during a Minnesota summer. 
  --Using engineering skills to help construct a cage
  --Weighing how many grams of pellets a rabbit eats & developing a plan for how much food to buy
  --Testing hypothesis and use data to explain their conclusions.
  --Creating a budget for supporting a rabbit in a suburban home
  --Designing and building an agility course for the rabbits out of cardboard boxes
  --Timing rabbits though the agility course and training them to go faster in a humane way
  --Making crafts
  --Exploring the life cycle of a rabbit including rabbit reproduction


2) Build on what students know and think
• The Minnesota K-12 Science Framework is the basis for our curriculum that is a blend of content
crafted by Minnesota Licensed Elementary teachers, rabbit breeders and experts.
• Textbooks are used as references, rather than the main source of science lessons.
• Students have the opportunity to use a variety of age-appropriate equipment and technology in their scientific investigations
We have nearly completed the curriculum for older students that should be ready for Fall 2014.

3) Include a mix of group presentations, team & individual assignments
• Students will share ideas, predictions and explanations with others.
• We also provide resources for students to do at-home science activities with their families including our new eight week STEM bunny foster program.

4) Welcome all students, regardless of age, gender, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or current interest
• Instructors expect all students to succeed and will help them set high goals for themselves
•We employ a variety of learning styles to help engage students
•Boys and Girls of all ages --  ALL love spending time with animals
•We aim to eliminate barriers to STEM learning

Paxton Peacebunny, Creampuff and Star

5) Encourage and model the loving, humane treatment of animals
Rabbits are welcomed as our special guests to the STEM class, not disposable "lab animals" or "science projects." We focus on observation skills and are vigilant to ensure humane treatment of these sweet animals, leading by example.
• MODEL BEST PRACTICES: We provide fresh water/food, and daily interaction with caring humans.  We live in Minnesota and our rabbits live in a barn for the winter and when the weather allows, we let them outside to explore by bringing them back to our house/backyard.  (They love snow and like other outdoor rabbits, their winter coats are thick to protect them from the cold).  They live in colony style housing rather than individual cages, with the males having private quarters to keep them safe from each other. During the rest of the year, we have a colony based in a barn but the rabbits who are fostered are given plenty of outside play time in chemical-free yards.  The ones who stay at a barn are rotated so they can come and enjoy our backyard.  We commit to giving access to  fresh air, sunshine, space to play, dig and act like rabbits.
• FOSTER vs OWNING: Although our rabbits may be fostered after weaning (8 weeks), we do not want families to jump into rabbit owning, which is labor-intensive and which often ends in  rabbits neglected or disposed of when bunnies aren't as little or novel anymore. 
• BREAKS: We  give the rabbits breaks between classroom interactions to help prevent exhaustion.
• OVERSIGHT: Our curriculum and methods have been evaluated by an overseeing veterinarian and a review board of college professors to ensure that we are following safe procedures for our students, volunteers and of course our animal friends.
• INSTRUCTION: Participants are instructed on proper handling, cleaning and care
• BIO-SECURITY/PREVENTION: If anyone in your household has had the sniffles, productive cough, fever, nausea or vomiting within 72 hours, please do not come and bring your germs which could be deadly to bunnies. If you have had a sick pet in your home, please wait at least two weeks before interacting with our rabbits.  You could be a carrier even if you aren't sick yourself.  
Thank you!

OUR APPRENTICES:  (Grade 6-12)
Exceptional science students have an opportunity to be mentored by rabbit breeders and those in the research and veterinary fields.   As part of the experience, you will get the skills to be able to assist in our K-4 workshops and  community educational events.  Contact us for an application to be considered for Summer and Fall 2014.  If accepted, we will work with your family to create a blended schedule that include instruction, service learning at events, responsibilities with the rabbit colony.  EMAIL FOR APPLICATION  stembunnies@gmail.com No previous rabbit experience is required.  Apprenticeships are designed in 50 hour increments with clear expectations agreed upon by both parties.  And yes there is plenty of time to just play with rabbits!!