Seventh grade scientists recently had the opportunity to expand their understanding of and familiarity with the heart via a hands-on lab using cow (specifically, calf) hearts.
Before the lab experience, students learned about the size, shape and function of a heart. Using a projector, Science Department Co-Chair Angela Miklavcic Brandon provided students with a diagrammed illustration detailing a heart’s layout and constituent parts and reviewed the way the heart’s atria and ventricles work like a pump to supply the body with oxygenated blood and nutrients while ridding the blood of carbon dioxide and other waste products.
Students then broke into groups, each with a cow heart, for the hands-on part of this learning experience. They worked collaboratively with one another and their teachers to:
Identify the four chambers of the heart, the valves and blood vessels that flow in and out
Compare the cow heart for similarities to and differences from information in textbooks, charts and models as well as a human heart
Identify how the structure follows and supports function by exploring the structure of the heart.
As students worked on their cow’s heart, they took pictures of their progress using iPads, documenting their findings as they located and followed the coronary artery, pulmonary artery, aorta, pulmonary veins, inferior and superior vena cavas, auricles and more. The more the students worked on their heart, the more comfortable they became touching and examining it. In the end, all students who completed this lab gained a better grasp on the important role the heart plays in the circulatory system.