Medical Detective students receive dissection as an early holiday gift

Students in the Project Lead the Way elective dissected a sheep brain in the week before Winter Break.

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“The sheep dissection was more fun than disgusting.  I learned a lot from it,” said seventh-grader Adrian Navarro.

During the week of December 16-22, Dr. Russ Hill’s three Medical Detective classes had to dissect a sheep brain.  Hill has been using the brain dissection as a part of the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) program, which he helped initiate at MacArthur Fundamental Intermediate.  According to Hill, only his three Medical Detective classes participated in the sheep dissection activity.

Hill said that the sheep brain dissection activity took three days to complete. The first day was a full period of very intense preparation, specifically learning about the anatomy and steps in the dissection.  Before the students dissected the sheep brain, Hill ensured that students had the background and understanding to appreciate the dissection.  Students were taught how the brain works, and identified the different parts of a sheep’s brain.

The dissection itself took place over the next two days.  

The sheep brains were provided by the Santa Ana Unified School District.  “It only took about a few days to organize everything and get the job done,” said Hill.

Even though a dissection may not be for the faint of heart, Hill found that his students generally enjoyed the dissection.  One thing he can improve for next year is to give students a thorough exam after dissection of the sheep brain, so the students would value the lesson and the content more.

 Hill said that the dissection was all intended to be, “a gift for my outstanding students before Christmas Break.”

Hill has been working at MacArthur for the past six years.  He has authored a book entitled Medical Investigation 101: A Book to Inspire Your Interest in Medicine and How Doctors Think, which is currently available in the school library and on Amazon, and it is also open for Reading Counts testing, too.  

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