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I want to teach science, but I do not want to do a dissection at home

July 14, 2015 3 min read

Does the thought of doing a dissection at home make you want to gag? Read on to see if you really have to do one!

One of the reasons I love going to conventions is that I get to connect with other homeschoolers.

I get to hear about why you love the idea of teaching science and what your struggles are. I get the chance to encourage you in your homeschooling journey and in turn you all encourage me to keep writing about science.

In that spirit, I have been sharing a series that will address some of the frequent struggles I hear in regards to teaching science.

So far we have addressed doing experiments at home. In today's post, I want to tackle dissections!

I’m guessing that a fair amount of you wrinkled your nose after reading that. The smell of formaldehyde and the icky feel of that preserved frog all came rushing back, didn’t it?

Never fear, by the end of this post, I trust you will feel quite a bit more relaxed about doing a dissection at home.

*Picture Attribution - Picture was taken by Jonathan McIntosh

I want to teach science, but I do not want to do a dissection at home

Big secret from my house

My daughter does not like dissections.

She has an aversion to all things dead, so she was none too pleased when she saw the frog dissection scheduled in Biology for the Logic Stage.

So, I understand. I know that chances are pretty high that someone in your house gags at the thought of touching a preserved animal for dissection.

So, do you need to even bother with doing a dissection at home?

The short answer – yes.

Why you need to do a dissection at home

Dissections offer an up-close look at anatomy. It gives your students a chance to see face-to-face what they are studying in a book.

There many great experiments that help the students to see how the various body parts work, but doing a dissection is really the only way to see the organ structures first-hand.

The good news is that you only really have to do a dissection at home once!

Of course, you can do more, but if you really have an aversion, one time is all it takes to get a really good glimpse at the internal organs the students have studied.

Getting over the dissection at home hurdle

So now that you understand the importance of doing a dissection in your homeschool, I want to share a few tips to help you get over the dissection at home hurdle.

#1 Tip - Get a good kit

The best way to succeed with a dissection at home is to get a quality kit. One that includes:

  • A well-packed, preserved specimen;
  • The tools you will need for the dissection so that you can throw them all out in the end;
  • And directions for the dissection that will provide the steps and explain what the students are seeing.

I have found that the dissection kits from Carolina Biological meet all these criteria. The nice thing for homeschoolers is that you can purchase one kit for a reasonable price – you don’t have to get a whole school package!

If you have a student who loves anatomy, here are a few of my favorite items to dissect:

  • Frog
  • Cow’s eye
  • Heart
  • Perch
  • Starfish
  • Worm
  • Fetal pig

Tips for doing dissection at home with kids who can’t stand them

If you find that your student is like my daughter and that he or she really can’t stand the thought of doing a dissection, here is what you can do:

  1. Grin and bear it. If you only require the student to do one preserved specimen dissection in his or her homeschool career, it makes it easier for him or her to grin and bear it for just this once.
  2. Do the actual cutting for them, letting them use a really long wooden point to point out the different parts.
  3. Get some nose clippers, the kind that swimmers wear to keep water out of their noses. This will keep the student from smelling the specimen.

These tips made the preserved specimen dissection go a bit smoother in our homeschool.

Wrapping it up

I trust that now you feel more comfortable with doing a dissection at home. They are a bit gross, but a dissection offers a look at anatomy you can’t get from a book.

If you really can’t get past the dissection at home hurdle when it comes to using a preserved specimen, try one of these suggestions instead:

Need some help knowing if, when, and what to dissect? Here you go.

This article was written by our author, Paige Hudson.If you want to receive more articles just like this straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter in the box below or click here.

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