ExploreHope Staff Stories: Diving Deeper into Dissection

Hello everyone! My name is Ashley Lauraine and this is my sixth year working at the Explore Hope Science Camps. I will be a sophomore at Hope next year and will be majoring in Biology along the Pre-Veterinary track. I absolutely adore these camps and love watching the campers’ eyes light up when an experiment is a success or their craft turns out just perfect! I am so excited to share with you one of my all-time favorite camps to participate in!

This week I led Diving Deeper into Dissection! Dissection is one of my passions and I love being able to share this with my campers. I even took this same camp when I was their age! This camp covers the anatomy of different organisms, including the squid, dogfish shark, leopard frog, pigeon, and fetal pig. The primary focus of this camp was to allow the kids to explore the in-depth anatomy of the specimens and learn more about comparative physiology between the different classes of the animal kingdom. 

One of my favorite parts of the week was the dissection of the fetal pig. The entire class was interested as I explained how each organ in the pig interacted with the full animal. They also were very excited when I allowed them to take out and unwind the digestive system. We did this with each of our specimens over the course of the week and compared the length and organ make-up of each one. 

Another highlight of the week was the shark stomach dissection. Many of our dogfish sharks had undigested or partially digested food in their stomach and the campers had the opportunity to open them and try to identify what was inside. We found lots of krill and even a partially digested reptile/amphibian that was identified because we found an intact 3-chamber heart and some pieces of intestine!

Dissection is a difficult activity to do at home, but with the right materials, it can be done. Dissection pans and tools can be purchased off of Amazon for less than $30 and the smaller specimens, like a rat or individual organs like a sheep brain or heart, can be purchased for as low as $15. With careful supervision, dissection can be an at-home activity that can teach your camper about the amazing subjects of anatomy and physiology!

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