- Sponsorship -

It May Look Icky, but It’s Educational

Troy Reinhart held the pig’s heart in his right hand and agreed it felt pretty much like he thought it would: “Slimy.”

But despite the initial tactile discomfort, the Grandview Elementary sixth-grader handily identified for a classmate the superior vena cava, one of two veins that bring deoxygenated blood from the body to the heart.

And when science teacher Val Conley quizzed the nearly 80 sixth-graders who gathered recently in teams of two or three to dissect pigs’ hearts, a sea of gloved hands went up every time.

Adult volunteers helped guide every group of two to three students

“Who can name the top chamber?” Conley asked.

“Atrium,” answered Jonathan.

Bottom chamber?

“Ventricles,” said Ryder.

Drew identified the pulmonary artery, and Rachel answered that blood goes to the lungs “to get oxygen.”

The annual pig dissection — with hearts fresh from DeVries Meats in Coopersville — ties to the sixth-graders’ study of the heart and circulatory system.

Students made four main cuts to trace the path that blood flows through the heart. They also made note of the difference in the thickness of the heart wall on the left side compared to the right; the left side is more muscular because it has to pump the blood to the whole body. Conley also pointed out valves as they made incisions.

Conley said there’s no technological substitute for the real thing, which has changed very little in the more than 20 years she has been leading the annual science lab.

“It is very important to do a hands-on dissection, because you can feel it and really see the parts on a real heart and how they are all connected,” Conley said. “They will remember it more after dissecting a real heart.

- Sponsorship -
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 or email Morgan.


‘Hope on the horizon’ as local teachers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

Lincoln School special education teacher, Ann Post believes there is 'hope on the horizon' for Kent ISD teachers and educators across Kent County after receiving her first round of the COVID-19 vaccine...

Sisters land grant to help those who ‘aren’t as lucky as we are’

Sisters at Page Elementary researched and wrote a grant to help homeless kids at Family Promise of Barry County...

Virtual counseling office offers ‘one-stop’ services

The site offers new ways for students to connect, on anything from academic questions to mental health issues...

Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Capitol riot gets personal in heart-sinking moment for history teacher and Michigan elector

The day after a violent mob broke into the U.S. Capitol, teacher and Michigan elector Blake Mazurek sat down with School News Network to discuss Wednesday’s events and how teachers and parents can help children navigate trauma and uncertainty in the wake of such events...

Choir teacher featured on national TV after SNN profile

A middle school choir teacher received an early holiday surprise on the television talk show, “The View,” this week, thanks to School News Network...

History geek with unique role in this year’s national election hopes to inspire students

Since 1837, fewer than 700 people have served the state of Michigan as an Electoral College elector. This year, a middle-school teacher from Grandville was one of them...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU