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Dissections - Emily

School: Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA)

City/State: Thornton, CO

Grade(s): 10

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science, Journal

Subject(s): Science and Technology, Visual Arts

Project Overview

Students created scientific journals during an expedition on evolution. This project gave them the opportunity to have a hands-on exploration of the animal kingdom and create a scientific journal with accurate diagrams and information like the ones kept by Darwin and Da Vinci. Every dissection started with a short video clip about the organism. Ecological information was included so that the students would be familiar with the role of the living organism, not just the dissection specimen. This helped students gain additional respect for each creature as a fellow inhabitant of our planet. The scientific journal featured here was created by Emily, a 10th-grade student at Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA).  

Students had a lot of doubts about recognizing homologous and analogous structures and building an evolutionary tree. Several class activities were completed to help students understand these ideas and the class spent time discussing ideas as a whole class before finalizing the evolutionary connections section of the project. 

Guiding Questions for this expedition included:

  1. How do living things change and adapt to a dynamic environment?
  2. How are all living things on Earth connected?
  3. What are similarities and differences between humans and other animals?
  4. How do different organisms meet their biological needs in order to survive?

Their teacher commented:

“The detail and care that the students put into their journals are impressive to me. These students grabbed onto the request to give their journals a personal touch and demonstrated very high levels of craftsmanship in their work.” 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A compelling, interactive and creative format as each page features a translucent overlay on which Emily has drawn the inside (post-dissection view) of the animal. When the overlay is lifted, it reveals the outside of the animal (pre- dissection). Thus the user is able to flip between a view of the intact animal and the labeled innards of the animal, experiencing what the animal would look like before dissection and after dissection!
  • An excellent model of the level of quality work that can be achieved by having high standards for student work. Please notice the thoughtful craftsmanship, detailed artistry, and accuracy of labeling.
  • Outstanding model of a beautiful and engaging product that is interdisciplinary (art, science).
  • Highlights individual student work that is handcrafted without the use of technology for layout. The student used paper, pens, colored pencils, and string to create a tactile and captivating product.
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