Dissection is one activity that many homeschoolers avoid. The thought of the mess, the smell, the “ick” factor scares them away. I confess—Emily has never gotten to do this, other than dissecting an owl pellet. I have wanted to, but I just haven’t made it happen up to this point. If she homeschools next year, she’ll be taking biology, so at that point it will definitely be in the plan.
A few years ago, when my older three children were all homeschooling, I organized a science club and we did a dissection unit. The students ranged from 8 to 13. I charged $5 or so per family to cover expenses, then I ordered dissection tools and specimens. A couple of places to find these items are http://www.hometrainingtools.com/ and http://www.hometrainingtools.com/.
We divided the students into groups of three and each group had a specimen and a set of tools. We did this outside on our deck to minimize the mess and smell. However, I was pleasantly surprised that after the animals were preserved in formaldehyde, they were rinsed in a glycol solution that removed most of the odor. It was a much better (less smelly) experience than what I remember of my high school biology classes!
The elementary-aged children jumped right in, while my group of middle school girls were a bit more squeamish. That’s my daughter, Allison, with the Beanie Baby frog on her shoulder. (I think she was protesting cruelty to animals, or something. ) She overcame her squeamishness and is now an M.D.
Each week, we dissected a new creature, including a grasshopper, fish, frog, and cow’s eye. Honestly, I was the most squeamish about the eye ball, but it turned out to be the neatest and most fascinating!
I highly recommend dissection as a family or homeschool group activity. It’s easier than you might think!