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Dissections Bring Knowledge About Organs
Students open and dissect parts of a pigs stomach and then identify the parts they recognize during a dissection class for fifth graders at Sierra View Elementary School on Dec. 6. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Animal organs helped elementary school students learn more about human body systems when they recently had the opportunity to analyze them during a dissection “party.”

All fifth graders in the district participated in approximately 75-minute dissection classes of a sheep heart or lung, or a pig stomach. Led by Gifted And Talented Education (GATE) teacher Brenda Combs and GATE program substitute Janelle Herrington, the teachers split up the schools’ dissection classes between them. Sierra View Elementary School fifth grade students got their chance at the dissections on Dec. 6.

“They started a unit on the body systems: circulatory, respiratory, and digestive,” Herrington explained, adding that the students started on the unit in early November.

“Before they came to the dissection, they each completed a report on all three systems, so this is to cap off the unit,” she said.

One group of students examined a lung and trachea and saw how the bronchial airway forked to each lung.

“This is hands on, they can feel it,” said parent volunteer Geoff Vassallo.

For the heart, another group examined the four chambers and looked at the inside of the valves.

In examining the pig stomach, fifth grade teacher Judy Alvey reported that the students identified all of the parts of the stomach and they noticed the organ’s rigidity and toughness.

“It’s a full investigation, really,” she said.

One group of students found a couple pieces of grain in one stomach.

Herrington said that the students actually get to see, touch and experience what they’ve seen in their textbooks.

“I’m impressed at how enthusiastic they are,” she added, noting that a lot of kids don’t get this kind of instruction until high school.

“We’re learning, we think it’s cool because we get to cut stuff up,” said student Alyssa Castano. “There’s a lot of fat (around them), there are a lot of organs in our body that we don’t really know a lot about. We don’t know how they look.”

However, now they do know how they look. Castano added that the organs look different in person than they do in the pictures in her textbook. She also said that she expected the organs to feel more “squishy” but instead they felt firm.