The library at St. George’s Junior School in Vancouver, British Columbia adopted three rats earlier this fall. The students have had lots of fun so far interacting with the rats. For example, a fourth grade class was reading a book where rats didn’t have that great of a reputation. So, they got to meet the library rats and discuss people’s perceptions about rats. Then, each student wrote a report from the point of view of one of the library rats.
The students have also been exploring the world of animal training and practicing by clicker training the library rats! In the photo above, the rat is learning how to go through a small tube of paper. The students use Rice Krispies and sunflower seeds as rewards.
I think this is pretty awesome. Most people discover clicker training as adults, many times after they have tried (and seen the unwanted side-effects) from traditional training methods based in force and punishment. I would love to see more people teaching kids early on how to train and interact with animals in a positive way.
Clicker training is a great way to demonstrate that you can get a lot accomplished with animals (and humans) by focusing on rewarding the behavior you want to see, rather than punishing “bad” behavior. In addition, I think clicker training is a great way to teach young people about problem solving and team work.
You can see more pictures here. If you want to read more about the rats, check out Curious [St.] George, the blog of the St. George Junior School’s library. I’ve been chatting with one of the librarians and she says that they will continue to post updates about the rats on their blog.
(Photos used with permission from Curious [St.] George.)
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