This is a small group, free discussion activity aimed at pre-intermediate students and above, in which students are asked to decide which animals should be selected to go aboard a space-craft in order to safeguard their survival. Time: About thirty minutes.

David Done


  • Organise the students into small groups and introduce the topic.
    • Disaster! An unknown virus is rapidly killing all known animal species. Fortunately, human beings and fish seem to be immune from the virus, but all other animals are at risk, and tragically many thousands of animals and birds have already died. Scientists are working hard to identify the virus, but they have predicted that many species face extinction if the virus cannot be identified and a remedy found quickly.
    • A plan has been devised: a space-craft is being built that will carry twenty male and female pairs of animals into outer space, where they will be safe from the effects of the virus until it is safe for them to return to earth. The ship will be crewed by experts in animal care and husbandry, and it is hoped that small breeding colonies of the selected animals can be created in order to ensure the survival of the chosen species. The ship will be ready in a few days…
  • Explain the task: students must choose the twenty species which will go into space aboard ‘Noah’s Ark’. There are no right and wrong answers, of course. Put a time limit on the activity – say about twenty minutes, and tell the students that you would like them to give you reasons for their choices.
  • The activity can be extended by combining groups after twenty minutes, so that small groups become bigger groups, which then also have to reach a decision regarding the animals selected for survival. Eventually, it might be nice to get the whole class to try and decide on the chosen twenty.
  • At the end of the activity, get feedback from your students and write their choices on the board…

Follow-up activities

  • This activity can lead into a good class discussion about why animals are important. Ask your students to try and imagine a world without animals – how would life be different?
  • A good homework follow up could be a little essay or assignment: Are zoos important?


I just wanted to say how great this idea is! I have some children with big imaginations and I know that they are going to love thinking about this activity, thanks so much!

This sounds like a really great idea! i´ll try it with some off my pre-fce students tomorrow to see how it takes off with them. i´m sure that it´ll encourage lots of conversation between them.

I used this activity with a weak 6th grade group. The only change I should have made would have been to lower the number of animals to 10 - otherwise it worked very well. In the next lesson I did a follow-up activity - I asked each pupil to choose one of the animals and write three sentences explaining why this animal is the most important. Then I invited two pupils to stand up and debate, the class was encouraged to ask them questions, and we voted on which was most convincing.

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