One recent Friday morning at Acalanes High School, the Juniors and Seniors in Jan Heaton’s biotechnology class looked more like surgeons in an operating room than high schoolers about to celebrate homecoming weekend.
Working in pairs, the students used scalpels to gently dissect sheep’s hearts, looking at their notes to figure out what parts of the organ they were looking at.
As part of their unit on the cardiovascular system, Heaton’s students got to experience the real thing first hand thanks to funding from LPIE, which gives around $37,000 for lab supplies for all of the Science classes at Acalanes, including Biology, Biotech, Chemistry, Geology, Environmental Science, Physics, Physiology and AP classes.
Heaton, who teaches biotechnology and physiology at Acalanes, says she is grateful for the opportunity her students have in Science labs to have hands-on experiences such as this dissection.
“Without LPIE, neither class would be what it is today,” says Heaton.
In Heaton’s physiology class, students get to use equipment such as electrocardiograms to measure their heart rates as they perform exercises. Other equipment, such as PCR machines, also known as thermocyclers, is used in DNA experiments.
Students in Heaton’s biotechnology class say they enjoyed the opportunity to perform the heart dissection.
“There aren’t many places where you get to see what you are actually learning,” said senior Cameron Burrill.
His partner Margot Audley agreed. “It’s very cool,” she said. “It’s very hands-on…literally!”
Junior Olivia Moore echoed her classmates’ enthusiasm, even though she wasn’t sure how she would react to the activity at first.
“I thought I would be more grossed out but I think it’s really cool,” said Moore.