03 May 2005


If you've been following allowing with this merry blog for awhile, you know that there are certain rhythms to my school year: infectious disease month...sex month...and now, for your pleasure: fetal pig week.

Yes, the first week in May is the time of year when my sophs make it to their ultimate dissection opportunity. We've already had a tour of the various body systems. The fetal pig is their chance to see these systems "in situ." Pigs also have organs that are roughly the same size and are in the same location as humans. Since we can't afford cadavers, pigs are the next best thing.

Kids often wonder if fetal pigs were "produced" just for classroom use, so I always spend a few minutes at the beginning talking to them about the origins of our specimens---and what would have become of them had a scientific supply company not purchased them.

As you might imagine, there is a bit of squeamishness and horror at first. But in nine years of doing this particular lab, I have only had one student become ill...and one refuse. The rest participate in one way or another. Most say at the end that even if things were a little yukky, they actually liked having the opportunity. It gave them a chance to truly understand the size and location of their own internal organs...and to see how everything fits together. I think some also start to realize just how connected we are with other species.

I feel a little nostalgic this year. This is my last year doing this lab---at least for awhile. Next year will bring all sorts of new rhythms to the day and school year. I am looking forward to that, but I certainly won't forget some of the others which have become part of my existence.

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