Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adventures in Dissection!

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!

Each specimen came with detailed instructions of how to cut, what to look for, and diagrams. As a teacher, I found the process very easy to do. The kids loved it! P1030552

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. Smile)  She overcame her squeamishness and is now an M.D.

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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!

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