These enrichment activities get pupils to think about the dangers of the internet, and ways to prevent conflict through the innovative use of animals

This week’s primary enrichment activity llooks at the dangers of the internet. Drawing on recent research, it asks pupils to discuss why the internet is considered such a threat and invites them to devise rules for making it safer.

This week’s secondary enrichment activity draws on a recent news story involving a hedgehog to teach pupils about the ways that animals have been used in warfare. Pupils are then encouraged to think of ways that animals could be used to encourage peace.

***Primary Enrichment***


During the key stage, pupils should be taught the knowledge, skills and understanding through:

  • working with a range of information to consider its characteristics and purposes [for example, collecting factual data from the internet and a class survey to compare the findings]
  • working with others to explore a variety of information sources and ICT tools [for example, searching the internet for information about a different part of the world, designing textile patterns using graphics software, using ICT tools to capture and change sounds]
  • investigating and comparing the uses of ICT inside and outside school.

The rules of hyperspace

  • Dr Tanya Byron, a child psychologist, published a report recently that highlighted the dangers and risks that children can encounter when using the internet.
  • A survey by Ofcom found a significant lack of understanding concerning the issues around privacy and safety pertaining to internet use.
  • According to a recent report, private financial information about bank account details is selling for as little as £5 in what have been described as ‘cyber crime supermarkets’.
  • ‘Phishing’, or the tricking of people into revealing confidential information, also continues to be a problem, the report noted.

In 1942, Isaac Asimov, the scientist and science fiction writer, wrote the ‘Three Laws of Robotics’. The Laws state the following:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

It is predicted that by 2020 there will be fundamental changes in the way humans and computers − and, by implication, the internet − interact (Human-Computer Interaction − HCI). Computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines. The dangers and risks of the virtual world of hyperspace are very real. The danger for users are not only of financial security being compromised but also the emotional and psychological effects of unguarded use. The dangers, however, should not be allowed to hide or undermine the benefits everyone can gain from using the internet.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

  • Discuss the fears and anxieties of adults with regard to young people using the internet. What can be learned from such discussions about the collective adult ‘mind’ and the fears of adults and adult society?
  • When the discussion has reached a point at which some conclusions can be drawn, invite your children to formulate three simple rules, which should be used by everyone using the internet − child or adult, whether for pleasure, research or work.


Protecting adults from the internet.

Going further

Carry on the discussion after the three rules have been established and consider how, if at all, the internet and the content of the internet might change if everyone kept to the three rules you have arrived at. You could also apply the three rules over a trial period of a week to see if there are any surprises or frustrations, benefits or disadvantages in the practice of applying the three rules. Do the rules need adapting or do they work perfectly? Ideally you would have a study group of adults who would agree to follow your rules for a trial period. They could report back to you about the effectiveness of sticking to your rules.

Read the full news story ‘Learning from technology’ 

Read about computers to merge with humans

Read The Three Laws of Robotics

Read the story on buying bank details online for £5.

Learning and teaching Scotland.

Financial education

‘Developing each individual’s financial capability, from early years through to 18, can enhance life chances and choices. It can help all children and young people develop the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence, particularly in becoming responsible citizens and effective contributors to society and at work, with an informed sense of their roles in the world.’

International Baccalaureate.

Primary Years Programme − Curriculum framework.

‘How we organise ourselves’.

***Secondary Enrichment***

KS3 Citizenship. Developing skills of enquiry and communication

Pupils should be taught to:

  • think about topical political, spiritual, moral, social and cultural issues, problems and events by analysing information and its sources, including ICT-based sources
  • justify orally and in writing a personal opinion about such issues, problems or events
  • contribute to group and exploratory class discussions, and take part in debates.

Cats, rats and hedgehogs

‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated’

− Mohandas Gandhi A man in New Zealand faces a prison sentence of up to five years if he is found guilty of using a hedgehog as a weapon. The New Zealand Herald reported that a man had been arrested after he reportedly hurled a hedgehog some 5 metres at a 15-year-old boy.

‘It hit the victim in the leg, causing a large, red welt and several puncture marks,’ said Senior Sgt Bruce Jenkins, in the North Island town of Whakatane.

The use of fish, mammals, insects and birds, either directly or indirectly, in warfare is widespread both historically and in the present. Cats have been used in warfare since ancient times, notably by the Persians against the Egyptians, who revered cats. The Persians set cats loose on the battlefield. The Egyptians could not harm the cats so they chose to surrender (the Egyptians that is, not the cats). Rats are used in detecting buried bombs and landmines. The advantages of using rats rather than dogs is that they are cheaper to train and the losses among rats are fewer than among dogs as rats trigger fewer landmines. Beehives, used by the Romans and in the Middle Ages, proved to be an extremely useful military weapon. Whether catapulted into a castle or enemy crowd, they caused serious disruption to the enemy.

Some questions for your pupils to consider and discuss:

Without hurting or destroying the animals involved, in what way can the following creatures (all of whom have been used in warfare) be used to improve the lives of people and enhance the possibility for peaceful actions and behaviour in the world? (Should, for example, every single person in the world be given a kitten?)

Electric eels


Positive action for a peaceful world.

Going further

Organise a virtual online charity pet show where the positive relationships between animals and human beings are emphasised. Make the event life-asserting and optimistic. Research the use of animals in hospices and rehabilitation centres for those who have suffered torture. Choose an animal you find particularly interesting and research a sociopolitical history of the animal. Find a publisher and publish your book.

Read the full story about the hedgehog incident and further links

Read about a pageant for landmine victims in Angola

Look at a survey of the use of animals in warfare

Read about war pigs.

Read about ‘Operation Acoustic Kitty’

Read about landmines.

Read how a squid’s beak could lead to better limbs

Learning and teaching. Scotland

Learning and Teaching Scotland 2002 describes citizenship as being about: the exercise of rights and responsibilities within communities at local, national and global levels; and making informed decisions, and taking thoughtful and responsible action, locally and globally.

International Baccalaureate.

Developing a critical appreciation of:

  • human experience and behaviour
  • the varieties of physical, economic and social environments that people inhabit
  • the history of social and cultural institutions.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in April 2008

About the author: John Senior is the author of Enrichment Activties for G&T Pupils. He is a teacher with 26 years’ experience of teaching Gifted and Talented children, working with parents and carers as a consultant on high ability, and peer mentoring.