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Dissection Options in Science Studies

by Kim Jaworski, Homeschool Resource Specialist

DISSECTION- This word conjurs up images of frogs or worse, and even the smell of formaldehyde for most of us. I don’t know of many moms who were terribly gung-ho to jump into this particular activity. But there are some less noxious options, and I thought I’d share some of those here. Even if you decide to go all out with a full blown dissection, you might do well to start with one of the other options as a warm up. And I recommend doing any actual dissection in the summer months, out at the picnic table!

1 - There are high level ‘coloring’ books (high school/college lab workbook caliber) available from Rainbow Resources. A quick search on their website will bring up Human Anatomy, Biology and Zoology. You’ll need sharp colored pencils for these, but you will learn the parts and processes of the inner workings of just about everything.

2 – Jello- like frog dissection kit (Smithsonian frog lab). Very cool. Very accurate simulation of the dissection experience without the gross-factor. We actually did this kit with friends as a New Year’s Eve activity for the kids (to rave reviews).

3 – Just google frog dissection. You’ll find multiple sites that have a virtual dissection experience. Varying degrees of reality. Try a few and choose the one that fits your (and your child’s) comfort level.

4 – Youtube. Do a quick search for frog dissection there and you’ll have plenty of videos to watch where someone else does the dirty work. Be careful, they offer more than just frog dissection if you search broader. Not for the faint of heart, or stomach.

5 – Full, hands on kit for dissection can be ordered from Specimens, tools and implements, the whole works.  (outside, picnic table- you’ll be glad I said so).

In closing, I’d also like to point out that a fishing trip can also be an opportune moment to explore how the insides of fish are different from the insides of us (or other mammals). When it’s time to clean the day’s catch – slow the process down and talk about which parts are which and how they all do their part to keep the fish alive. Closely examine the gills and talk about how fish breathe differently than land animals. Learning opportunities are all around us, but it usually requires that we slow down and explore the moment fully.

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