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News from the 4th Grade Pet Detectives

“What’s the most important thing we have to do?” teacher Kathie Wainwright asked her class.

“Spread the word!” they answered in unison.

While Kathie Wainwright’s class may seem like other students at Pennell Academics Plus School in Philadelphia’s Olney section, these are no ordinary 4th graders: they are the 4th Grade Pet Detectives, and they are on a mission to end animal abuse.

Inspired by visits from classroom partners like 12-year-old Lizzie Penna, who founded Peace for Puppies when she was just 8, and Claire Tillman, a volunteer with the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), these 4th graders have taken on this serious topic with true passion, determination, and assistance from their tech-savvy and highly supportive teacher.

So far, they have created: a blog where the “agents” regularly post pet care tips, information, photos and videos; an interactive, multimedia presentation for other students, teachers and guests; and a 10-minute, professional-quality newscast.

“Everything you see was researched, written and directed by the 4th Grade Pet Detectives,” says Kathie. When the students step into their roles as teachers, the adults in the room fade into the background as the Pet Detectives speak and present their research with an authority that belies their ages.

“I tell my friends I’m a Pet Detective and they don’t believe me … ‘til I show them the website and they see it’s real,” Agent M. said, clearly proud of what she and her classmates have accomplished already.