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Anatomy and Physiology Project

Kylie Drayer, Contributor

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Recently, students in Mrs. Lightner’s Anatomy & Physiology classes have been doing a dissection lab. Check out the Q&A below to learn more about the lab:

What is the purpose of dissecting a cat, in particular?

Cat specimen are reasonably priced for dissection specimen and are a nice comparison for human anatomy.  They have excellent muscular structure as well.  We use the similarities and differences to reinforce the anatomical learning.  For example, some variations result because cats walk on four feet and humans walk on two feet.  We then spend time comparing the skeletal structure differences because of this.  

Where will students apply what they learn?

Most of my students are looking to enter the medical field (anything from nurse’s aide, LPN/RN to medical doctors or surgeons) or to work with animals (vet tech/veterinarian, animal biologist).  These students will use this knowledge as they enter into colleges/universities to further their education.  Others just take it for the learning experience.  All students will learn study skills they can use in higher education settings or the real world.  

What is the process for the dissection?

The first step is removing the skin from the cat specimen.  This takes multiple class periods to complete.  After the skin is removed, we do an in depth study of the muscles of the upper body followed by the muscles of the lower body.  Then, we open the abdominal cavity and study the digestive, reproductive, and urinary systems.  Finally, we open the thoracic cavity and study the cardiovascular system and nervous systems.  

What kind of preparation do students have to do before they can dissect?

We don’t do much in preparation for actual dissection.  The only experience that can be helpful comes from students that have hunted and skinned game animals.  Otherwise, it is a learn-as-we-go experience.

As for learning during dissection, we study the physiology and structure of each system while we study the anatomy of the system during dissection.  This allows the students to learn physiology and apply it to the anatomy.  Students then take written exams on the physiology.  They then have to identify the parts of the dissected cat system on their practical exams.  

What are the students’ responses to the project?

Some students squeal and get really excited.  Others sit back and observe quietly.  But, as the days go by, most students become comfortable with the specimen and learn a significant amount from their dissection experience.  

Thank you, Mrs. Lightner for your overview of dissection.

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