Hands on Experiment in Dissection


Learning about the muscular system in class teaches students the basics, but when a student can open a cat and can identify the muscles for themselves the learning experience increases greatly. This year, Anatomy and Advanced Placement Biology students completed many activities to enhance their learning and give meaning to what they learn in the classroom.  While the initial thought of opening up a dead creature is alarming and uncomfortable, for most students, the experience of completed a dissection in high school will carry through most students college careers. “I was a little nervous at first, but I kept an open mind and enjoyed applying what I know to a hands on experience,” said senior Trevor Octavio.

A.P. Bio students dissected various organisms, to help students further understand what was taught in lecture. With the help of handouts and explanations regarding what incisions to make and parts to look for, students completed five different dissections: clams, earthworms, crayfish or grasshoppers, frogs, and fetal pigs. Dissections prepare students venturing into the science or medical field experience by giving them a taste of how to complete a dissection. “It allows my classmates and me to get hands on experience with actual bodies,” explains senior Nina Wickham. “For me it was a vital part in showing that I think I can handle the medical field.” Dr. Wnek explained that dissections help students learn their capacity of what they can handle and prepare them for what they might encounter in college.

Anatomy students had two unique opportunities for dissection. Students dissected a deer heart to reinforce lessons about the heart and blood; the purpose of a cat to strengthen their understanding of the muscular system, digestive, and respiratory systems. For the past three years anatomy students have been completing a cat dissection instead of a fetal pig dissection, like students completed in the past, because a cat’s muscles are comparable to humans and you can see the muscles much more visible on a larger specimen. “Dissection teaches students many skills that will benefit them in a college dissection,” said anatomy teacher Mrs. LeVan. “They might not remember the actual muscle they are discovering, but dissection in high school gives students the basic skills on how to complete a dissection. It helps students become comfortable with dissections,” said Mrs. LeVan.

“I think dissection is a good way to learn. It’s more interesting then reading from a textbook. Also I feel that I learn better because dissecting is hands on and I can see in full view what I am learning,” said senior David Moffa, an A.P. Bio and anatomy Student.  Dissections enhanced students learning, and helped prepare for higher learning opportunities.