Guest post by Lindsey Halman, facilitator at The Edge at Essex Middle School:
What is a system? How are living things organized? How do the structures of organisms contribute to life’s functions? Learners on the Edge team addressed these questions through a unit on Structure, Function and Information Processing in Living Organisms using the Next Generation Science Standards to guide their work.
To gain a clear understanding of the body systems and how these interacting subsystems work together, learners were engaged in a variety of activities. One such activity was using the team’s iPad Minis to participate in a virtual frog dissection using the app Frog Dissection. There are a growing number of interactive apps and programs that allow learners to better understand anatomy in a manner that is ethically and environmentally responsible. Using the app felt like a strong fit for our team’s philosophy on learning.
In the app, a virtual scalpel allows students to practice the same cuts they would in a live dissection with tools like pins, markers, scissors and forceps to guide their work.
What was unique about this experience was the ability to “undo” and “redo” any aspect of the dissection. This is something that can only be experienced virtually and it provided learners with a clearer and deeper understanding of the frog’s anatomy. The level of engagement was incredibly high during this activity and no one was excluded because of their moral or ethical beliefs. Therefore, using the app became an inclusive and strong learning experience for our community.
Lindsey Halman is a facilitator on The Edge team at Essex Middle School. She has previously written about her students’ investigation of the natural world outside their school for our Leading by Example: Wild City Project showcase. Images credit: Emantras Inc.