Chickens: Activity 1 (Science, Yr 7)

All About Chickens: A Year 7 Science Conference

This activity is designed to help Year 7 students understand interactions between organisms and how humans might impact on these interactions. Specifically, it is designed with the intent of encouraging students to consider the contemporary animal welfare issues inherent in chicken meat farming in Australia and how science may be used to examine and resolve these issues.

The learning sequence for this activity begins by watching a video on chicken behaviour, both within and outside of a farm environment. Students then read information on one aspect of life for a broiler (meat) chicken before creating their own annotated posted for the “All About Chickens: A Year 7 Science Conference”. Finally, students reflect upon ways in which science can impact on the lives and experiences of animals.

Time Allocation

3 lessons. 

Key Inquiry Questions

  • What is the nature of meat chicken farming in Australia?
  • How can students investigate, design and present an evidence-based poster on specific aspects of chicken meat farming in Australia as a teaching tool for other Science classes via a poster display?
  • What is the role of science in farmed animal welfare?

Learning Activities

1. PRE-TEST

Explain to students that at Science conferences, scientists often present their work as an annotated poster as part of a large display of ideas. This activity asks students to create an annotated display for the “All About Chickens: A Year 7 Science Conference”.

Show students the examples of a well-designed scientific poster and a poorly designed scientific poster. Discuss (link below).

As a class, make a mind-map of students’ knowledge about natural chicken behaviour and that of those in chicken farms operating in Australia. Students can keep track of ideas by using the worksheet “What Do Chickens Actually Do With Their Day?"

2. EXPLORE

Watch the Voiceless video "How are Chickens Raised for Meat in Australia? Chicken Welfare in the Meat Industry”. 

As students watch the video, encourage them to add more ideas to their mind maps.

3. DISCUSS

Students are to design their own annotated Science poster for the “Year 7 Meat Chicken Farming Conference”. With reference to the Fact Sheet, each student can choose to investigate ONE of the following aspects of the life of a broiler chicken: Chicken Intelligence (p. 3), Natural Chicken Behaviour (p.4), Chicken Welfare in Intensive Farming (pp.9-11) or Chicken Welfare in Free-Range Farming (p.12). Behaviour (p.4), Chicken Welfare in Intensive Farming (pp.9-11) or Chicken Welfare in Free-Range Farming (p.12).

Refer students to the Voiceless infographic “Chicken Meat: Where Does It Come From?” for added information and catchy display ideas!

Instructions for Students

Posters must include the following:

  • an eye-catching format;
  • a short, interesting, accurate title;
  • a hand-drawn image you have created after reading the section of the Fact Sheet that relates to your topic;
  • other relevant graphics;
  • a series of between six and ten annotations around that image;
  • annotations must only refer to the evidence and scientific data in the Fact Sheet; and,
  • Include between 200-300 words and ensure the poster is readable from about four meters away.

4. SHARE

Display all the posters in the classroom as part of the “All About Chickens: A Year 7 Science Conference” display. 

Allow students to wander around the classroom to peruse one another’s work. It can be useful to give students one assessment rubric per poster and get them to assess one another’s work. This engages them in the task and gets them thinking more deeply about how best to effectively communicate scientific data to an audience. The final grade can be an average of these marks and that of the teacher. 

5. REFLECT

Ask students to write a 150-word response to the following:

“Refer back to your mind map. In light of your new understanding of how chickens are raised for meat in Australia, how do you think science impacts upon the lives of chickens, and could it be used to protect chickens from cruelty and suffering?”

6. USEFUL RESOURCES

Monash University has some great ideas for how to create engaging and effective poster presentations: www.monash.edu/rlo/assignment-samples/science/poster-presentation