What if we still did the same reports, but added another component. Instead of each child doing a different animal in isolation, what if each classroom was divided into an animal group? What if each child still individually researched an animal of interest in that group, but as a class researched one threatened animal listed on the EDGE and created a campaign to raise awareness, raise funds, etc. Wouldn't that make the research they were doing more meaningful? What if they included a wondering paragraph in their individual report about the importance of the role of their animal in the ecology and how things would change if it were out of balance?
I think, regardless of how much the students do enjoy the traditional reports, we can teach them to engage in learning activities that aren't just enjoyable and for acquiring knowledge, but that research serves many purposes, and it should always contribute to making the world a better place.