Training Future Surgeons…or Scientists

October 25, 2012

Teacher Ms. S. has requested support for her science class to learn basic vertebrate biology with the time honored dissection lab.

This grant will provide our science classroom with the equipment necessary to complete two laboratory dissections with 100 students. After an in depth study of the circulatory system and the chambers and structures of the heart, we will dissect a sheep heart. I selected a sheep heart since they are almost identical in size and structure as a human heart. We will continue with our anatomical studies of the other human organ systems, including the respiratory, digestive, excretory, reproductive, muscular, and skeletal systems. As a final culminating project, we will dissect a large bullfrog to develop a much deeper understanding of how the organs work together in the human body.

The REALM Charter school in Oakland California has an admirable goal

The mission of Realm Charter School is to cultivate resiliency, develop critical thinking skills, advance knowledge through rigorous studies, and equip students to serve our communities and the world in the 21st century. Realm Charter School will serve diverse urban students in grades 6-12 using a student-centered model that features project-based learning, an emphasis on technology, research and action on concerns in the community and activities that develop emotional resiliency.

and is described further by Ms. S.:

The REALM Charter School student body consists of 80% students of color living in Richmond, Berkeley, and Oakland. Approximately 60% of our students are Latino, and the remaining 40% are African American, Asian and White. We are a project based design school. We teach students to tackle problems and seek solutions through creative ingenuity.

As my longer term readers know, I’ve had my eye out for the dissection projects for a few years now because I think they are some of the most memorable primary and secondary school experiences when it comes to scientific education. This has been recently reinforced because one of my children was afforded the ability to do several dissections in a summer program that my spouse and I could happen to afford. Not every child in America is so lucky, as you well know, and this is a High Poverty school.

This is not a cheap project, the remaining balance sits at $1,089 as of this writing. This makes it a steep hill to climb, but I think we have a shot at making it a reality. So please, if you can, donate. Even just a little bit, $5 or $10, chips away at the total and creates momentum.

If you cannot, please consider forwarding the link on your Twitter, on your Facebook and even by email to your friends and families.

I am already humbled by the generosity of the Readers of the DM blog and of the Scientopia Collective. Thanks to everyone who has already pitched in.

No Responses Yet to “Training Future Surgeons…or Scientists”

  1. Courses for horses, I suppose. While I suppose dissections are helpful for future surgeons or for people who go on to use animal models in their research, I always sort of thought of them (at least the middle school/ high school version of them) as responsible for the misconception a lot of non-biologists have that biology is just about labeling parts and memorizing their names. But the choice or having them or not shouldn’t be dependent on the wealth of the school (which in the US is pretty much the wealth of the students’ parents), I agree.


  2. Jim Thomerson Says:

    We have always used fetal pigs rather than bullfrogs, more human like, I suppose. I’ve only done it the university introductory biology course level. It is interesting to watch the change in attitude and excitement as the students progress through the dissection. The anatomy of the fetal pig is rather amazing, how all that stuff is neatly stuffed in there. It is in part a discovery experience, looking for, finding, and recognizing a particular organ or part. It should be accompanied with discussion and question, for example, how does blood circulate in the fetal pig, and how is it it different from adult circulation, and why is this the case?


  3. […] ranged from requesting money to purchase new stools to securing supplies for frog and organ dissections to, you guessed it, latex gloves. If you’d like to contribute, here’s your chance to capture […]


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