On August 8, 2014, National Veterinary Assay Laboratory (NVAL), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, had its open day for school children and offered the children opportunities to learn the work of animal doctors at the laboratory in Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo. The lab invited 20 local elementary and junior high school students and they thoroughly enjoyed being “small animal doctors” in white coats.
Their first learning materials were small animals. Small doctors were asked to check the heart sounds of guinea pigs and chicks with stethoscopes. “Their hearts are beating so quickly!” they reported excitedly.
The next task was checking chicken eggs to see if they are good for egg-based vaccine production. The kids held the eggs against a light to confirm that they are healthy and suitable for producing vaccines for farm animals.
A sixth-grade child Mikari Hara, 11, said, “I listened to the heart beats of animals for the first time. I felt strongly that the animals are alive!” She treated the animals with a serious look on her face.
NVAL conducts quality assays and research on drugs for animals, particularly farm animals. Its open-day events have been held annually since 2001 to explain the role of the laboratory to local children.
(Aug. 9, 2014)