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Tech Center introduces virtual anatomy table

Watch Tech Center students demonstrate the new, high tech tool for studying the human body

Kent ISD — When the “R Biceps Brachii Muscle” appeared on a screen, the four students who stood around the Anatomage Table paused to view the computer-generated back side of a real human body.

“Oh wait,” said Wyoming High junior Guadalupe Pedroza, as the group flipped the image to the front of the body. “Is it this?” 

She tapped the screen to highlight a muscle on the front of the upper left arm, near the shoulder. She then tapped the “answer.” Came the response: “wrong.”

“It’s on the other side,” said Northview High junior Jalayzza Bills. 

Junior Lauren Mersman, a home-schooler, reached out and tapped a muscle on the right side. 

“No, the other muscle,” Jalayzza said. Lauren tapped a different muscle then selected “confirm.” The table responded with a new muscle “L Gluteus Maximus.” And so it went, until the students completed all the questions and the table tallied who had the most correct answers.

Health Science Program Goes High-Tech

As of this fall, the Kent Career Tech Center’s health sciences program uses a new learning tool, the Anatomage Table. Roughly the size of an operating table, it is a high-tech, touch-screen computer that provides 3D visualization and serves as a virtual dissection tool for anatomy and physical education. 

Often used in medical schools and institutions, the table helps students study the human body without having to use a cadaver, said Tech Center health instructor Hailey Kane. 

“What it provides is an accurate view of the human body and its various systems,” Kane said as she demonstrated how it worked. “Students can look at specific human systems, such as muscles, or they can see how different systems work together within the human body.”

The table comes programmed with several virtual representations of real human cadavers donated by families, and include that person’s story. Students study how issues such as smoking impact bodies, and can scroll through the layers of the body, going from skin to muscle to bone to nervous system.

“Being able to use the Anatomage Table certainly makes it more fun to study, and it is a lot easier to see where things are in the human body,” Jalayzza said.

Table-side Learning 

Wyoming High junior Guadalupe Pedroza said the table is more hands-on, helping her to figure out something, like where a specific muscle is located, when she is uncertain. This helps to reinforce what she is learning, she said.

“Having the table gives you a better peek of what you are looking at by giving you an exact image of the muscle or organ you are studying.”

One of the tougher parts of studying the human body is memorizing muscles and other systems, said East Grand Rapids High junior Porter DeLiefde. The table has games that make it more enjoyable to learn versus filling out a sheet with the human body on it and writing in, for example, where specific muscles are, Porter said. 

As health care instructors learn to use the table, it is currently being used only as part of the Health Career Foundations program. But plans are to expand the table’s use to the other health science specialties such as medical assistant, ENT, diagnostics, pharmacy and nurse tech/patient care tech.

“It really enhances the education of the students on anatomy and physiology,” Kane said. “The better we can prepare and educate in understanding what they are going to see in the workplace or in a cohort at college, the better they can be at helping patients.”

Read more from Kent ISD: 
Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon ISDs join forces to recruit and retain teachers
Full STEAM ahead at the zoo

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio

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