Lessons from the heart

Seventh-graders dissect sheep and pig hearts


Powell Middle School students recently took science lessons to heart.

After studying the heart and its intricacies in textbooks, seventh-graders got a firsthand look at the vital organ as they dissected pig and sheep hearts last month.

“There definitely is a gross out factor for some students, and no matter how much you prep them, they still can’t get over cutting open an organ from a living animal,” said Stan Hedges, who teaches seventh grade biology at Powell Middle School. “For some, it just increases their interest and fascination with the human body.”

The focus of the dissection lesson is for students to understand cell specialization — and just how specialized the heart is, he said.

“There are at least seven different types of tissue in the heart and being able to look and touch them all is essential for [students’] comprehension,” Hedges said.

This is the fifth year Hedges has led heart dissections in his science classes.

“I did see a few green faces, but nothing out of the ordinary,” he said of the recent class.

Since the project happened to coincide with hunting season, one student brought an antelope heart to dissect.

“I think it is fantastic that students have enough interest to bring the heart in to look at how it is made up,” Hedges said. “There are so many differences between a wild animal and a domesticated one. Using both hearts, we can see the lifestyle that each of them led and the effect the fattening up process takes on the heart.”

Roger’s Meat Processing in Powell donated pig and sheep hearts for the students to dissect, which makes the hands-on lessons possible.

“Without that donation, we simply would not have it,” Hedges said — adding that he’s grateful to have the resources for students to have this experience.

“Roger’s Meats is amazing in their willingness to save these hearts for us over the course of three months,” he said. “This is one of the projects the seventh-grade students look forward to every year.”