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Human Anatomy, Now in 3-D

Making Models Helps Students Understand Bodies


Emma Beck admits she hasn’t yet mastered cooking macaroni and cheese without burning it. But even after just two weeks of practice molding a human body, the Central High junior already is showing mad anatomy skills.

Emma and her classmates are building their own human scale model bodies, thanks to a $6,100 grant from the Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation.

Science teacher Chad Scholten displays a clay heart made for a human scale model. All his students will make their own

Science teacher Chad Scholten learned about the 2½-foot models at a national conference for science teachers, and said even he understood more about the musculoskeletal system when he could build it himself. He thought the models would be just the thing for bringing anatomy lessons off the page and the projector.

“Some of these students might go on to be nurses, doctors … and those professions definitely work in three-dimension,” Scholten said. “Even as patients, having this knowledge can make a difference.”

By the end of the school year, Scholten’s students will have molded every organ in the body and major systems such as musculoskeletal, digestive, nervous, cardiovascular and respiratory.

Cue the theme song from the HBO series “Westworld.”

Scholten said he envisions using the models to demonstrate both healthy bodily systems and unhealthy ones. Maybe a card game where students pick an illness, or an injury such as a torn rotator cuff or tennis elbow, then have them explain what other areas that particular injury can affect and how to repair it.

There are a lot of possibilities, which is A-OK with Scholten. “We’ll have these forever,” he said.

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Forest Hills Public Schools Foundation

Anatomy in Clay

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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