Beth Bergeron

Squeamishness overcome in hands-on science class

There was a fresh delivery of 60 pig eyes from Olymel to Red Deer’s St. Francis of Assisi Middle School on Thursday morning.

There was a fresh delivery of 60 pig eyes from Olymel to Red Deer’s St. Francis of Assisi Middle School on Thursday morning.

One Grade 8 science class raised their scalpels and dove into the task of carefully tearing apart every little piece of the large animal eye as part of the Light and Optical Systems unit.

“It’s rubbery!” exclaimed 14-year-old Aimee Skinner.

“And bigger than I thought it would be.”

Other words like “gooey” and “squishy” were tossed around the room as the students peeled off the pink fat and muscle from the sclera, the tough outer white part of the eye.

The dissection lab part of the science curriculum is a hands-on activity that is fun and valuable for a more comprehensive learning, said teacher Deb Sharhan.

“They’re a bit squeamish at first but then they get an appreciation for what it really looks like in the body,” Sharhan said.

“Some go on to pursue careers in medicine or become veterinarians from their first dissection experiences.

“Others who maybe are thinking they want to be a nurse or something along those lines, they learn from the dissection that maybe that career’s not for me.”

For Skinner, the lab helps make textbook theory more memorable and make more sense — which is useful for the test about the eye that they have coming up on Monday, she added.

Beth Bergeron, 14, said the iris and pupil are the most fascinating parts.

Classmate Edmore Cabrera, also 14, said he was eager to slice open the optic nerve.

The school has been doing pig eye dissections for about seven years.

New this year was an added dissection lab involving a frog.

Three Grade 8 classes at the school took part in the dissections over the week, for a total of about 180 eyes, all supervised by Sharhan and fellow teacher Ian Stang.

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