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The Three Rs and Animal Use in Science Rerun


Welcome to the MOOC The Three Rs and Animal Use in Science Rerun

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The European Union is committed to replacing the use of animals in science, and we need young scientists to help us achieve that goal.

Achieving this goal would provide a context for the development of critical thinking skills and to facilitate the introduction of students in subjects like ethics, biology, statistics, philosophy or civic studies. Learning about alternatives to animal testing introduces students also to topics about sustainability and better scientific practices.

Many medicinal and toxic compounds are tested on animals before they are declared safe for human use. Animals are also used in basic and applied research. But animal testing can be costly and can cause suffering to animals, and the results do not always translate successfully to humans. In this course you will explore the new technologies that could make animal use in science unnecessary in the future.

You can explore the principles of the Three Rs relating to animals used for scientific purposes. The Three Rs stand for: Replacement; to replace animals with other methods, wherever possible. Reduction; to use fewer animals in research and safety testing. Refinement; to minimise discomfort in lab animals through better housing, handling and pain relief. The MOOC will take you through these principles, and many examples on how to address them in the classroom. You will discover new ways to develop your students' critical thinking and debating skills, develop their data literacy, and enhance their understanding of science.

If you would like to help your students:

  • Discover a new STEM career
  • Explore scientific innovations for non-animal alternatives
  • Learn how to identify fake news, or bad science
  • Carry out research, collect data and draw graphs
  • Develop and improve debating skills

then join us on the Three Rs MOOC! The course will be launched on the 13th September 2021. See you there!

Learning objectives

  • Learn about the different roles that animals play in the society, and where and how animals are being replaced by alternatives
  • Learn about how animal testing has evolved in history and the different views on animals in science
  • Get to know the principles of the Three Rs and the Three Rs career profile; how the Three Rs are applied and by who they are practiced
  • Learn how to make your students aware of new methods and scientific achievements that enable research without animal testing
  • Become better at organising   and leading classroom debates about animal welfare, animal testing or any other ethically complex topic
  • Discover ways to hone the critical thinking skills of your students through data, science and media literacy activities


The course is open and will be most relevant for secondary school life sciences (biology) teachers. However, all secondary school teachers (other disciplines), as well as animal science/welfare stakeholders and policymakers are welcome to join the course.


  • Module 1: Animal Welfare and Science opens on 13/09/2021
  • Module 2: Human-based Science opens on 20/09/2021
  • Module 3: Critical Thinking opens on 27/09/2021
  • Module 4: Your Own 3R’s Learning Scenario opens on 04/10/2021


In order to receive the certificate, the participation in the quizzes will count for 15%, and the learning scenario together with the peer reviews will count for 85%. The overall passing grade is 95%.

 The final deadline to complete all activities is Wednesday, 20 October, 23:59 CEST.

Note to teachers from Emilia-Romagna: Per i docenti della regione Emilia-Romagna iscritti alla piattaforma regionale è possibile ottenere, oltre all’attestato rilasciato da European Schoolnet Academy, anche l’attestato rilasciato dall’Ufficio Scolastico Regionale per l'Emilia-Romagna (Servizio Marconi) che attua un'azione di facilitazione ed accompagnamento a questa attività. Maggiori informazioni al link:

Note to teachers from Portugal: You can get your successful participation in a European Schoolnet Academy course formally recognised as a valid continuous professional development, and thereby acquire the relevant number of training hours, by sending your certificate to the Conselho Científico e Pedagógico de Formação Contínua (CCPFC) at Rua do Forno, nº 30, 1º andar - apartado 2168, 4700 - 429 Braga, Portugal. For more information, please contact the CCPFC.

Note to teachers from Ireland: It may be possible to count the completion of this course as part fulfilment of any discretionary CPD hours, subject to your school management's approval. Therefore, please enquire with your school management if your participation in this course can be formally recognised. 

Course Staff

Eleni Myrtsioti - course coordinator

Eleni Myrtsioti (Project Coordination and Pedagogy) is a Project Coordinator in the Science Education Department of EUN. Eleni contributes to Scientix by coordinating the Repository of resources, the online training program and the STEM Discovery Campaign. Eleni is also involved in STE(A)M IT and the Three Rs projects where she coordinates the work by teachers and the online courses.

Marcelle Holloway - course coordinator

Marcelle Holloway has been working at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, European Union Reference Laboratory for the Validation of Alternative Methods (EURL ECVAM) in Ispra, Italy since 2017. She is involved in a number of projects directly supporting and advancing the impact of Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes. The projects mainly concern improving Three Rs knowledge sharing and Three Rs education and training. Formerly employed at the European Commission's Directorate General Environment in Brussels, she worked assisting with the coordination, preparation and adoption of Directive 2010/63/EU and related projects and legislative instruments. She has worked at the European Commission for 16 years based in Luxembourg, Brussels and now Ispra. She has a background in constitutional law and politics of the European Union, economics, publishing and communications.

Alexia Micallef Gatt - course moderator

Alexia Micallef Gatt is a science & biology teacher at St.Paul’s Missionary College in Malta. She is very passionate about the area of scientific creativity and has conducted research in relation to fostering scientific creativity in addition to other 21st century skills. Alexia is also a Scientix and eTwinning Ambassador for Malta as well as an SDG Champion for Peace and Partnership within the National Youth Council.

Disclaimer and Copyright

This course has been funded by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) under a European Parliament Preparatory Action entitled “Promoting alternatives to animal testing”. The course has been prepared by the European Schoolnet, in collaboration with the JRC. The Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. This course is additionally supported by Scientix 4 (Grant agreement N. 101000063). Scientix has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme and is coordinated by European Schoolnet (EUN). The content of the document is the sole responsibility of the organizer and it does not represent the opinion of the European Commission (EC), and the EC is not responsible for any use that might be made of information contained.


Creative Commons License

All content on this course unless specified otherwise is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

  1. Course Code

  2. Classes Start

  3. Classes End

  4. Estimated Effort

    4 hours (22 in total)