Wednesday, March 8, 2017

8 of 31: It's Like Edgar Allen Poe...Morbid But Amazing

Slice of life is right...only today there was literal slicing! There's just something about razor sharp scalpels and seventh graders that sets my nerves on edge. But year after year, I'm amazed at how students perform under pressure. Today was our pig heart dissection field trip to St. Louis University.

An experienced surgeon leads the students through the dissection. He was a commanding presence with his salt and pepper hair and booming voice. Our students immediately gave him their full and undivided attention when he began poking and prodding both a healthy and unhealthy human heart pointing out the effects of heart damage and its causes before finally turning to the pig heart. Our seventh graders sat silently, gloved hands rested in their laps despite the shiny metal tools and an actual pig heart in just inches away.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about it beyond the familiar burn of formaldehyde in my nose. Once the first cut was made, it didn't take long before I escorted a young person up and out of the dungeon dissection lab out into the brisk March air. Usually only a handful out of a hundred struggle through this experience.

Today there were only three friends who needed to step out of the lab at some point. I came equipped. I had mints to distract them and replace the chemical smell with a pleasant peppermint perfume. I had tissues, which I didn't need. Some year there are tears, but not this year. I had the medical bag slung across my shoulder, which was unneeded - thank goodness!

My three friends and I enjoyed a beautiful day and compared what parts of the lab sent us reeling whether it be the smells, the sounds, or just the overall experience. The lab is a little over an hour, so we were not outside or alone for very long. The rest of our team came upstairs chatting excitedly and we managed to corral them all on the steps in front of the building for a team picture!

I always love talking with kids on the bus ride back to school. Many confessed that their fates as surgeons were now sealed. Thank you SLU and Grey's Anatomy. Others professed that they were proud because they didn't throw-up. In fact, one young lady proudly boasted that she made an excellent nose scratcher because she refused to touch the pig and her gloves were clean enough to scratch her lab partner's nose.

However, my very favorite response when I asked the young man sitting next to me whether or not he enjoyed the field trip was, "It was like Edgar Allen Poe...morbid but amazing!"  What a perfect response to his English teacher's question!


  1. I am in awe that the English teacher is accompanying students on this dissection field trip! Talk about interdisciplinary learning. What an extraordinary field trip! Would love to hear the students' reflections some time in the future -say, two months...has it changed the way they take care of their own bodies? Changed their future plans? or is it all forgotten? So cool!

  2. Glad everyone survived! Good call on the mints...I'll have to remember that next year!