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Food For Thought

Two girls talk, one holding a Ferret   Three girls measure the weight of an animal's food bowl before measuring how much the food in the bowl weighs

Many people don’t consider how much food their pets truly need when they feed them. Often, they just fill the bowl and refill it when empty. However, Animal Science students at the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology performed an experiment to find exactly how much food their animal patients need to be healthy, and ensure nothing goes to waste.

Students were tasked with weighing the animal to find their weight in kilograms. Then, they used a reference sheet to find out how much food was appropriate for the animal’s weight. The students then weighed the food in their pet’s bowl and found out whether their furry patients were being overfed or underfed. Finally, they used their math skills to find out how much that extra food cost, and what it was costing the classroom in food waste.

“A lot of students get overwhelmed with math without even reading it through,” said Lori Beckmann, teacher of Animal Science at the H.B. Ward Technical Center. “Once they read through the problem, they were able to think logically and work through the math problem. Also, by figuring out how much the extra food costs, we were able to incorporate a little career and financial management in our nutrition class.”

For some animal patients, like Pancake the gerbil who eats mostly seeds, the cost of overfeeding may be only cents on the dollar. However, for an animal with a specialized diet like Amber the guinea pig, even a little overfeeding over the course of the week could really cost some money.         

The students were also tasked with figuring out the physical consequence of overfeeding, such as weight gain and cardiovascular disease. The mini-lab challenged students to really consider what their animals are eating, and how to make better choices for their patients.