Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Creating Clay Models of a Human Torso as an Alternative to Dissection

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

Creating Clay Models of a Human Torso as an Alternative to Dissection

Article excerpt

For instructors seeking an alternative to dissection--whether because of cost, environmental impact, or personal choice--this activity is a low-tech option for either a whole class or a few students. Instead of dissecting animals, my students create 5-inch clay models of human internal organs. This is a fun, hands-on activity that taps into students' creativity, and it also requires them to understand the positioning and interlocking shapes of their own organs. As instructive as studying diagrams can be, more is learned about the digestive system when it is constructed from esophagus to rectum and interlaced with the heart and liver in the process. This way, students learn more about their own bodies while still learning kinesthetically. They gain a deeper understanding because they are producing something rather than merely manipulating it.

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I give students one full class period (75 minutes) and then 30 minutes on the following day to finish their project. I allow them to take their models home between classes, but students rarely do so. Students are asked to include 10 organs: heart, trachea & lungs, esophagus & stomach, liver, pancreas, kidneys, small intestine, large intestine, bladder, and spinal cord, each in a different color. Additionally, I ask female students to include a uterus and ovaries and male students to include testes. They can use the myriad biology and anatomy textbooks available in my classroom as well as a life-size torso model. …

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