My kids love anything they call “real science.” Much of biology doesn’t feel hands-on and experimental enough for them, but dissections satisfy the scientist in them. While we were dissecting a frog we even referred to each other as “Doctor” as we went. We felt like full-fledged scientists AND surgeons. (: This was hands-on learning at its best.
Meet Fran. Yep, we named her and we still felt okay with exploring her anatomy. Here she is on our operating table. The foam square made it easier to pin securely.
We started by exploring her external anatomy. We got Fran from Home Science Tools and she came with a dissection guide that walked us through each step to take in our exploration. We spent about 10 minutes searching for various external parts and adding them to our hand-drawn diagram.
Next, it was time to cut Frannie-girl open. We pinned her to the foam tray, then used the scalpel to make a small incision.
Next we used scissors to open her up.
We removed her organs one by one. Each time we identified one we drew it on our chart and I read to the kids about that organ from an anatomy book. Human anatomy is remarkably similar to frog anatomy.
We identified her heart, lungs, liver, intestines, fatty tissue, and many of her other organs. We also found eggs, which confirmed that Fran was indeed a fitting name for this female.
By the end she was pretty empty and we had identified all the parts we removed using the guide that came with our kit. We also checked out her teeth and removed one of her eyeballs so we could learn more about those elements. We made a lot of anatomical parallels and also talked about the ways we are different from this amphibian.
Dissecting a frog was pretty fascinating, especially when it came to comparing her anatomy with our own, and reading along in our anatomy book as we went added a great deal to the dissection. Having it all so hands-on definitely made the reading and information more memorable. There’s something magic that happens when you have the perfect combination of learning and doing – who wouldn’t remember the amazement of holding intestines while learning about what they do? That’s what hands-on learning is all about.