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NIH SEPA: This is How We "Role" Program

NIH SEPA: Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses

9th Grade Pilot Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses 2012

Developed by:

Joe Ruhl: Lafayette School Corporation, Lafayette Jefferson High School

Jenny Veatch: Crawfordsville High School, Crawfordsville Community School Corporation


The 9th grade biology curriculum is already full and teachers often feel pressured by trying to cover everything during the course of the school year. With that in mind, this 9th grade biology unit was designed not to be an “add-on”, but rather to provide a new and exciting way to teach standard concepts that biology teachers already teach. With this unit, biology teachers will still teach concepts such as the scientific method, the use of compound and dissecting microscopes, animal diversity, life cycles, cells, biochemistry, and the social implications of the biological sciences. The only difference is that this unit will enable teachers to teach these concepts with a real-world, practical application approach and by using examples from veterinary and human medicine. Relevancy is a natural with this unit because kids have a heart for their pets. Kids have firsthand (sometimes painful) familiarity with sickness, medications, and medical procedures both in their pets and in themselves and their family members. Our belief is that this relevant, practical approach will help kids to better learn biology and to better understand the role that animals play in keeping people healthy.

Please see Academic Standards for a list of the Indiana Academic Standards met by this curricula.


The goals of this project are to teach 9th grade biology students the role animals play in keeping people healthy by:

1. Helping students appreciate that all organisms – humans and other animals such as dogs and horses – are made of the same “stuff” (cells, macromolecules, and molecules).

2. Helping students to understand that because of the commonality and relatedness of all life, pharmaceuticals produced for humans can be tested on non-human animals, and medical procedures perfected in non-human animals can then be applied to us, making for healthier pets, livestock, and humans.

9th Grade Teacher's Guide Manual (PDF)

Academic Standards


  • HW.1.1 - Document how personal behaviors can impact health.
  • HW.1.2 - Explain the interrelationships of emotional, social and physical health.
  • HW.1.5 - Formulate ways to prevent or reduce the risk of health problems.
  • HW.1.7 - Summarize the benefits and barriers to practicing healthy behaviors.
  • HW.7.2 - Examine individual responsibility for improving health.
  • HW.7.3 - Illustrate a variety of healthy practices that will maintain or improve health.


  • B.1.1 - Recognize that and explain how the many cells in an individual can be very different from one another, even though they are all descended from a single cell and thus have essentially identical genetic instructions. Understand that different parts of the genetic instructions are used in different types of cells and are influenced by the cell's environment and past history.
  • B.1.2 - Explain that every cell is covered by a membrane that controls what can enter and leave the cell. Recognize that in all but quite primitive cells, a complex network of proteins provides organization and shape. In addition, understand that flagella and/or cilia may allow some Protista, some Monera, and some animal cells to move.
  • B.1.3 - Know and describe that within the cell are specialized parts for the transport of materials, energy capture and release, protein building, waste disposal, information feedback, and movement. In addition to these basic cellular functions common to all cells, understand that most cells in multicellular organisms perform some special functions that others do not.
  • B.1.4 - Understand and describe that the work of the cell is carried out by the many different types of molecules it assembles, such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids.
  • B.1.6 - Show that a living cell is composed mainly of a small number of chemical elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur. Recognize that carbon can join to other carbon atoms in chains and rings to form large and complex molecules.
  • B.1.8 - Understand and describe that all growth and development is a consequence of an increase in cell number, cell size, and/or cell products. Explain that cellular differentiation results from gene expression and/or environmental influence. Differentiate between mitosis and meiosis.
  • B.1.15 - Understand and explain that, in biological systems, structure and function must be considered together.
  • B.1.17 - Understand that and describe how the maintenance of a relatively stable internal environment is required for the continuation of life and explain how stability is challenged by changing physical, chemical, and environmental conditions, as well as the presence of disease agents.
  • B.1.20 - Recognize that and describe how the human immune system is designed to protect against microscopic organisms and foreign substances that enter from outside the body and against some cancer cells that arise within.


The project described was supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

NIH . . . Turning Discovery Into Health

Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of ORIP or NIH.