Human Anatomy at Colby

Entries Tagged as 'Lab'

Danielle Levine: Heart Dissection and MMSA Visit

February 24th, 2015 · Comments Off on Danielle Levine: Heart Dissection and MMSA Visit

Danielle Levine (’15, Biology)


While taking Introduction to Anatomy and Physiology this JanPlan, I was given the opportunity to perform a wet dissection of a pig heart. Having learned about the surface and blood vessel structural features via the study of powerpoint slides, listening to class lectures, and studying plastic models, the wet dissection gave me the opportunity to view the anatomy learned in an actual heart. Studying a list of anatomical features and seeing pictures of them on paper is a very different experience from actually getting one’s hands “dirty” and exploring a real heart and seeing what those structures actually look like.

Besides being able to dissect the heart in lab, one of my favorite activities of the semester was when during the following week we dissected another pig heart with visiting high school students, and were able to show them everything we had learned about the heart the week before. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a number of high school students from different schools in Maine visited Colby for the day as part of a collaboration between the Maine Math and Science Alliance and the Colby Goldfarb Center; we were able to show the students around the lab and talk to them about anatomy and physiology, as well as help them with potential science fair project ideas.

That day, our class began with a lab practical that covered the eye, the ear, and the nervous and cardiovascular systems before the high school students arrived; after we finished the exam, we met the high school students who would be spending the day at Colby with us. Each lab group of Colby students partnered with two high school students, my group with Cierra, a sophomore from Dover-Foxcroft, and Shea-Lynn, a home schooled junior. After introducing ourselves, we took the high school students on a tour of our lab, showing them all the different models we use to help us learn about human anatomy. In addition, we went over with them the lab practical exam that we just took, explaining what the answers were (of course, we had an answer key, and we had gone over the answers in class after we had finished the exam), and the physiological significance of the various anatomical structures identified. This was a very enjoyable experience, as not only did it reinforce my knowledge of the material, but it also gave me the opportunity to share that knowledge with these students by teaching them a little bit of anatomy and physiology.


After the lab tour, we had enough pig hearts left over from the previous week, and so we were able to dissect another pig heart, this time letting the high school students perform the dissection while we helped and taught them about the different structures and features of the heart they were looking at – this teaching was reinforced by the use of pictures and models of the heart.


After successfully dissecting the heart and exploring its anatomic features (and after lunch), we talked about potential Maine Science Fair project ideas for Cierra and Shea-Lynn; they came up with some interesting topics such as the effect of emotions on heart rate and blood pressure. The day was very rewarding, as it gave me a feeling of competence in that I was able to teach others material I had learned in the course – not to mention, it was also a lot of fun!

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Pictures of two of the heart models we used to study the cardiovascular system and teach the high school students with.

Tags: Lab · Special Activities

Chris Lee: Dissecting a Sheep Heart

February 23rd, 2015 · Comments Off on Chris Lee: Dissecting a Sheep Heart


I cut the plastic bag open and was immediately hit with a strong odor. Inside the bag was a sheep’s heart, sitting in a pool of preservative chemicals. Immediately after taking the heart out, I went over to the sink to rinse off the chemicals. I could tell that this was going to be a messy lab. Still, I was excited to do a sheep heart dissection because it was an opportunity for me to see a real heart. For about a week, I had been studying diagrams and models of hearts, but not a real version of the organ itself. The anatomical models we used were helpful in learning where structures of the heart are located, but nothing beats seeing the real thing.

After washing the heart, my lab partner and I located its apex (tip) and figured out where the left and right sides were. It was immediately apparent that not all the structures were intact which was unfortunate (both the inferior and superior vena cava had been cut off). However, we discovered a well-preserved depression known as the foramen ovalis behind the right ventricle that had not been damaged in the preservation process of the heart. The foramen ovalis marks the former sport of the foramen ovale, a hole in the pig fetus’s that helps with blood circulation. After the pig’s birth, the hole is sealed, leaving behind the foramen ovalis.


Next, we started cutting the heart open. Cutting through the walls of the heart was difficult. The heart’s function, to pump blood throughout the body, requires it to be a tough, durable organ and I was reminded of this as my lab partner and I tried to cut through its walls. Pulling apart an incision on the right side revealed a small chamber with a hole in its lower end covered by three flaps. This was the tricuspid valve, the covering between the hole connecting the right ventricle and right atrium. I stuck my fingers through the valve, pushing my way past the three flaps into the larger space known as the right ventricle and felt around. Brushing against my fingers were the stringy cordae tendinae that connected the flaps of the tricuspid valves to the papillary muscles.

Over on the left side of the heart, we saw structures such as the left atrium, bicuspid valve, and the left ventricle. While making a cut on the left side of the heart, I immediately noticed how much thicker the muscular walls were on this side. Something that occurred to me during this dissection that I never really thought about before was how the heart’s form fit its function. Its thick, muscular walls (particularly on the left side) gave it the necessary power to pump blood to different parts of the body. The cordae tendinae, though somewhat thin and stringy, still felt strong and durable, which was necessary for them to be able to keep the bicuspid and tricuspid valves shut. Even the layout of the heart itself is essential to its function. It contains four chambers linked by a straightforward path that enables deoxygenated blood to enter, get pumped to the lungs to pick up oxygen, return, and then get pumped to other parts of the body. The sheep’s heart dissection was definitely my favorite activity from anatomy class. I enjoyed the hands-on aspect of it and being able to explore the layout and structure of a real heart.



Tags: Bi265j · Lab

Calvin Robbins: The Science Behind Run Til You Puke

February 23rd, 2015 · Comments Off on Calvin Robbins: The Science Behind Run Til You Puke


Have you ever heard of somebody exercising to the point of vomiting? Or have you done it yourself? I never have, but during the digestive system lecture of the BI 265 Human Anatomy and Physiology class this Jan plan I had a sudden realization as to why this happens.

While nausea may be a common feeling when working out due to food or liquids in the stomach being bounced around, that is not usually why we actually end up vomiting during hard exercise. In fact, one of the biggest causes starts with the respiratory system. The job of the respiratory system is to remove CO2 from the blood and replace it with O2. During exercise, cells produce CO2 as sugars are broken apart to make ATP, which the cell uses for energy. Some of the CO2 byproduct goes into the blood and attaches to hemoglobin, but the vast majority of CO2 is actually transported as carbonic acid, which induces respiratory acidosis. When a person is doing anaerobic activity, such as running at full speed for a long enough time, their lungs are unable to get all of this accumulating CO2 and carbonic acid out of the bloodstream thus creating increasingly acidic blood. It is not due solely to lactic acid as many people believe, but the inability to exchange enough gas in the lungs.

As the blood gets increasingly acidic, the body has to find a way to get rid of all of this acid. One of the main ways the body has of releasing acid, as you may have already guessed, is through vomiting. As you vomit, the hydrochloric acid used for digestion is expelled from the stomach, which is lined with highly vascularized rugae. As the acid is forced out of the stomach, the acidic contents of the blood are pulled out to replace the Hydrochloric acid that was lost from vomit. Following the same thought process, this is why excessive puking will produce alkalosis (high pH) in the blood.


If you vomit frequently after heavy exercise you should take a few steps to achieve a healthier and more beneficial workout:

  1. Base your workouts on a heart rate range.  This will force you to stay within a set range for aerobic exercise, which can be roughly calculated based on your age. Usually 85% of max heart rate is the highest you should be going for an aerobic workout to prevent acidosis.
  2. Drink plenty of water; if you are vomiting due to dehydration, it is a much more severe issue than acidosis. Steadily drinking water before, during, and after exercise will help, as well as a small amount of sports drink to replace some of the ions lost during the work out.

It takes a lot of anaerobic exercise for the body to get to the point of vomiting. This kind of activity, contrary to what some may think, is very bad for your body, and is not something to strive for in a hard workout. Remember to drink plenty of water and keep a reasonable heart rate target in mind for a healthy and effective workout.

Tags: Human Health · Lab · Special Activities

Ariel Oppong: What is the Best Way to Study?

February 23rd, 2015 · Comments Off on Ariel Oppong: What is the Best Way to Study?

Ariel Oppong_237134_assignsubmission_file_colby id possible pic

For Intro Into Anatomy and Physiology we had to complete both lectures and a laboratory component. For the lab part we were provided with at least an hour and a half to review the components of various models and structures displayed around the microbiology laboratory. During the first week I was excited to see the models and to see how much I remembered from the Anatomy and Physiology class I took my junior year in high school (about four years ago). The first day I realized that what I had retained from my past Anatomy and Physiology class was more broad physiology than college- level anatomy details. We had our first lab exam on day four of the class. I was shocked to find out we would have an exam so early but I do not think that it really hit me until the first Tuesday night. That night I actually came to terms with the fact that I only had one more night before the exam. Panic definitely was a feeing that immediately surfaced. I had never taken a pervious class with Prof. Klepach and I did not know how he tested so I was really worried.


Nonetheless, I had to start studying something or I was going to feel defeated before I even started. My fried Jay and I really focused our studying on the various parts of the human skull. We spent about two hours in total on that skull and we were pretty good after numerous quizzes and checks with the professor. The only issue is that by spending so much time on the skull we really did not get to study the other models as in depth. Even in the moment, I knew I was taking a risk by focusing on that body part for so long. I was just hopping that at least five or so questions would come from that region so I could reap the benefits of my studying. Haha I guess I was hopeful. My Wednesday a lot of people were over the amount of work. I think we lost about 7 people in the first week. But I was intent on finishing the class.


But was I studying appropriately? I really was not sure. In addition, I finished the previous semester pretty late, December 22nd , so when JanPlan January 5th, I was only home for around 10 days and I was pretty tired of school already. Was I putting in the appropriate amount of time? On average I was studying for at least four hours a night if you included watching the videos or podcasts for the next class, still it felt like that was the bare minimum. My first practical was really supposed to show me where my study skills were improving, okay at or lacking.


Whoa was the first lab practical hard! I did not actually study even close to the amount I needed to study in order to do well. Slacking off would be an understatement. I did poorly on the exam and the answers I got right were mainly give –away or identifications that I probably could have made even as a high school student. Disappointment was my main feeling during and after the exam. I just felt like with an exam like the lab practical- your performance is in direct correlation with your study skills. All the answers are predetermined and you just have to recognize the anatomy and regurgitate the medical terminology.


Basically my first lab practical taught me a hard lesson about slacking off plus it motivated me to try new methods and lastly it gave me a starting place that was so low that for my second exam I had no where to go but up.


Tags: Bi265j · Lab

Lauren Shirley: Cardiology: Getting to the heart of the matter

February 22nd, 2015 · Comments Off on Lauren Shirley: Cardiology: Getting to the heart of the matter


One of the highlights of my experience in BI265j was the cardiac section and in particular, the heart dissections we got to do. I had a fairly solid understanding of the heart coming into the class from my EMT training. I knew that the blood came into the heart through the vena cava entered the right atrium passed through the tricuspid valve to the right ventricle, was pumped to the lungs through the pulmonary arteries to receive oxygen and then returned to the heart through the pulmonary veins into the left atrium then through the mitral valve to the left ventricle and out to the ret of the body through the aorta. What my EMT training had failed to teach me, however, was the beauty of this process, which is almost artful in its simplicity and elegance. This class gave me a greater appreciation of the elegance of the heart and the mechanisms behind its continuous beating. I was fascinated by the spread of electrical signal and its motion through the myocardium. The depolarization starting at the sinoatrial node, which spreads to the atrioventricular node then through the bundle of His and out to the Purkinje fibers is a highly linear path, simple yet powerful. While the lecture on the heart and studying plastic models in lab fascinated me, it was the opportunity to dissect the heart that truly solidified by understanding of it.


We dissected preserved cow hearts. Initially, I was impressed by the thickness of the muscle in the heart walls. It took quite a bit of work with a scalpel and scissors in order to get down into the different chambers of the heart. The sheer thickness of the walls and the work it took to get through them spoke to the sheer power of the heart as a muscle and the strength needed to supply a large body, such as a cow, with blood. Once inside the heart, I was fascinated by the sheer strength of the chordae tendinae, the fibers that keep backflow from occurring in the tricuspid and mitral valves. Despite pulling on these relatively thin cords, they didn’t tear! This further illustrated the necessary strength of the heart to me and the great pressure and quantity of blood that it pumps.


While it was really exciting to get to see a real life illustration of the models we had studies (that wasn’t color coded), it was even better to have a chance to share our newfound knowledge of the heart with the high school students who visited. I felt that teaching them what I knew solidified it in my mind. However, it was also exciting to see the “next generation” of young science students and how fascinated they were with the human body and its functions. I felt that my enthusiasm for cardiac function was almost contagious as I eagerly showed them how to dissect ad encouraged them to explore and understand the heart in front of them.





Long story short, this class got me pumped for cardiac anatomy and physiology and a possible career in cardiology. Ironically, I love the heart!

Tags: Bi265j · Lab · Special Activities

Allison O’Connor: Heart Dissection

February 22nd, 2015 · Comments Off on Allison O’Connor: Heart Dissection


Although I took a lot of science classes in high school, I never had the opportunity to do any dissections. Dissections were always something wanted to get to do because I feel like the best way to learn is through hands on experience. I first fell in love with anatomy in middle school when I visited the Body Worlds exhibit while it was in Philadelphia. My dad took me to this exhibit expecting that we would walk through quickly, but instead we were there for hours as I stopped and closely examined every part of the exhibit. This exhibit was the closest I ever got to dissecting anything before this JanPlan, but the exhibit definitely inspired me to want to learn more about anatomy.


In my various science classes and in my emergency medical technician training I had learned about the basic structure and function of the heart. Numerous times I have been asked to trace a drop of blood through the heart and it is something that I could recite in my sleep. When we started the cardiovascular unit in anatomy and physiology this JanPlan I thought I was going to hear the same spiel about the heart that I had heard so many times before. However, this JanPlan, I saw the heart in a whole new light. Though I had already learned the basic function before I learned about the anatomy in much more detail this month than I had in the past. I also learned more about the electric conductance system of the heart and some very basically how this presents itself on an EKG, which is particularly interesting to me since I see EKGs done by the paramedics on the ambulance all the time.


The heart and its function have always been interesting to me, however, I did not fully understand how truly amazing the heart and its structure are until I was holding the pig heart in my hands. While the heart was in my hands I was able to identify the structures that I have learned about so many times and really see for myself the relationship between the structure of the heart and its function. Being able to literally stick my fingers through the arteries and veins to feel where they went lead me to understand the structure of the heart on a whole other level. I was amazed at how muscular the walls of the heart actually are. You are always told that the heart is an incredibly strong muscle, and it is a fact that you just blindly accept as true, but holding the heart in my hands and trying to cut through the muscular walls really showed me the true strength of the heart muscle. I was also surprised at how strong the chordae tendonae were given the fact that they look no stronger than a strand of floss. I put their strength to the test by pulling on them with lots of force and was unable to break them. The heart dissection reminded me of the importance of hands on learning and learning through discovery as opposed to just blindly accepting things as fact. When you blindly accept things it is easy to lose sight of the intricacies and wonder involved in the systems around us. I was in awe during the entire heart dissection and it really changed the way I thought about the cardiovascular system and reminded me of the importance of being curious and full of wonder.


Tags: Bi265j · Lab

Rachel Bird: Heart Dissection

February 22nd, 2015 · Comments Off on Rachel Bird: Heart Dissection


I know, rationally, that the brightly colored red and blue heart diagrams in the spiral bound textbook on the lab table aren’t entirely accurate. However, I was surprised at how disappointed I was to open the box of shrink-wrapped pig hearts and discover that the entire heart is a homogenous beige color – somewhere in between tea with too much milk in it and the thick clay in the riverbeds near my house. Luckily, that disappointment didn’t last. As my lab partner, Rebecca, and I unsealed the plastic wrap, our first impression of the heart was the smell. Acidic, chemically, headache-inducing: the preservatives that kept our heart from smelling like rotting meat also made the entire lab smell like the inside of a formaldehyde bottle!



As our noses adjusted, we began our cursory inspection of the heart. Once I was able to get over the bland coloration, our pig heart actually looked remarkably like the textbook model. From the shriveled atria to the rubbery arteries, our pig heart just looked like a small-scale reproduction of the plastic hearts that had been on display on the lab tables all week. Once we oriented the heart with the apex pointing down, Rebecca made the first cut, deftly slicing the heart in half like a bagel. We both gasped. The interior of the large, muscular ventricles was covered in delicate, stringy chordae tendineae! The textbook photos and models mentioned these fibrous bands, but the lightly sketched lines in our reference image in no way prepared us for the network of elastic filaments that criss-crossed through the ventricles. Rebecca tugged at one of the strands, but instead of breaking, it snapped back into place as soon as she released it. Those things are a lot stronger than they look!

Our second surprise was the septum’s thickness. We had both memorized the fact that the left ventricle has stronger muscle walls than the right ventricle (because while the right ventricle only pumps blood back into the lungs to get oxygenated, the left ventricle has to distribute blood to the entire body). However, the difference was huge! The septum was thick and muscular and not at all thin like the cartilaginous septum that separates the nostrils. As we continued to hack away… or rather, “dissect,” our heart, we noticed that if you pulled the filmy visceral pericardium away from the outer walls of the heart, it revealed rougher, almost striated muscle tissue below. It was even possible to pull up small strands of muscle tissue with the tweezers and separate the layers of the heart muscle. The same was true of the interior of the ventricles – once we peeled back the smooth endothelium that protected the inner walls of the heart, the coarser muscle tissue was revealed.

Even more interesting than the layers of the heart muscle was the layered structure of the veins and arteries splaying out of the heart. After Rebecca and I had thoroughly examined all the entrances and exits to the heart (mostly by sticking our fingers in the tubes to figure out which chamber each one led to), we sliced off a section of the aorta and attempted to identify the layers of the tissue that compose an artery.

By the time we were finished, our pig heart lay in chunks all over the dissecting tray. Rebecca was poking one end of her tweezers through the coronary artery and I was still stubbornly trying to “de-fat” the right atrium. As class time ran out, we reluctantly cleaned up our heart and threw out our gloves, eager to get the scent of preservatives off our hands. As Rebecca and I threw out the last of our paper towels, I turned to her and said, “I hope they aren’t serving pork carnitas again at lunch. I don’t really think I can imagine eating pork after that…”



Tags: Lab

Mayra Arroyo: The Heart Dissection

February 22nd, 2015 · Comments Off on Mayra Arroyo: The Heart Dissection


The activity I enjoyed the most during this class was the pig’s heart dissection. As a student, I, sometimes forget that the diagrams and figures in textbooks are only a close resemblance to what things actually look like. This is especially true when dealing with the human body. Diagrams are usually different colors and are embellished to in order for students to learn them more easily. At first it was a challenge to find the parts of the heart I had only previously learned via diagrams. There were many times I could not find the correct anatomy for examples the pulmonary vein and the aorta looked very similar on the real heart, so it was hard to distinguish between them. Another thing I did not realize is the strength and thickness of the heart’s wall. At the start of the dissection I was extremely cautious of how deep I cut into, but I started to realize that the heart was very thick and strong. This activity showed me that the heart is truly amazing part of the body, which the diagrams did not do justice.

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One of my big triumphs during this activity was locating the coronary arteries on the pig heart. Although by just looking at the outside of the heart it is possible to see where they are, but we were able to see where they connected to the aorta and where they extend away. We were able to stick a probe and follow them. We removed some of the fatty tissue to see a clearer view of the arteries. It was amazing to see these arteries, because at that point I knew my presentation was going to be about coronary artery disease and its possible treatments.

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Dr. Klepach told that class that you do not really know and understand material until you teach it to another person. I had the great pleasure to put this idea to the test with the heart dissection. We showed high school students how to dissect the pig’s heart. This was a great learning experience for me, because I was able to solidify the anatomy I already knew, and it also taught me what I had missed the first time. This was by far the most useful part of this activity for me, and the most valuable. I became a full believer in this idea, and will continue to use this strategy in my future studies.

Before this unit I knew only very basic concepts of the heart’s function and its anatomy, but after this activity and lecture my knowledge increased greatly. I am biology major with a concentration of neurobiology and I thought I wanted to go into the neuroscience field, but after this unit I am seriously considering going into the field of cardiology. This is a very challenging topic, but it can potentially be a very rewarding subject for me. There is still a lot I do not know about the cardiovascular system, but I am eager to learn much more about the heart and it’s importance to the human body.


Tags: Bi265j · Lab

High School Students Visit in Conjunction with Maine Math and Science Alliance and Colby Goldfarb Center

January 22nd, 2015 · 1 Comment

We were very lucky to have visitors to our class on Monday the 19th, MLK day, from a number of High Schools in Maine. The high schools included Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, and even a home schooled Junior. The visit was designed to help the ten visiting students get a better sense of human anatomy and physiology in the hope of developing science fair projects for the Maine State Science Fair being held on March 21st in Bangor. The day was organized in conjunction with the Maine Math and Science Alliance and the Colby Goldfarb Center. For my part I was hoping to drive the material further into the brains of my students by following the aphorism the person who comes to teach learns the keenest lesson, while inspiring the spirit of mentorship towards the visiting students. The day started for my students at 9am with a practical lab exam covering the anatomy of:

  • The central and peripheral nervous systems
  • The eye and ear
  • Sensory receptors
  • The cardiovascular system and blood

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The lab has been up in Arey 307, typically the turf of microbiology lab, but for a month transformed into a splendid anatomy lab.


Danielle Levine (’15, Biology) contemplating a synaptic bouton during the test.


Lauren Shirley (’17, Biology/Music) looking at a dissected pig heart and Ariel Oppong (’16, Biology) inspecting an eosinophil in a histologic blood smear.


Mayra Arroyo (’16, Biochemistry) peering through a stereoscope at the optic chiasm on the 3D plate of a dissected brain from the Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy published in 1911.

Following the lab test the high school visitors turned up. I had initially intended for the visitors to start with an Art & Anatomy scavenger hunt similar to the one that I had designed for my students last week in the Colby Museum of Art, except this one would be based on clues created by the Colby students themselves, however the timing didn’t workout with the visitors being able to visit on their day off from school and MLK day falling on a Monday, the day that the museum is typically closed.  Instead the students got to tour the lab and then participate in dissections of pig heart specimens. Rather than type out a description of the day I am simply going to reproduce the official event summary drafted by Stefany Burrell from MMSA, punctuated by annotated photos from the day taken by myself, Amanda Cooley of the Goldfarb Center and Stefany Burrell and Lynn Farrin of MMSA.

Notes from Colby J-Term Anatomy & Physiology Mentoring Session 1/19/2015

10:15    High school students from Lincoln Academy, Foxcroft Academy and a homeschool met Dr. Klepach’s class outside of the science buildings. It was a mild 40 degrees and sunny. Everyone headed into a lab in the Arey Building for an introduction.

10:30    Dr. Klepach welcomed the visitors and described his philosophy on science and teaching. The students were struck by his enthusiasm and knowledge. Many were inspired by his belief that teaching is learning.


Introduction by Stefany Burrell and Dr. Klepach.


Lynn Farrin (left) and Stefany Burrell (right) of the Maine Math and Science Alliance.

10:45    The students introduced themselves and the formed five groups, each with two high school students and three Colby students. Prior to this meeting, the class completed a lab exam. The exam consisted of approximately 30 questions in which students needed to identify various parts of human anatomy. The exam was broken into four sections: eyes, ears, nervous system and vascular system. As an icebreaker, the college students walked their charges through the exam, explaining what the physical models represent. The exam also included microscope slides, diagrams and a real pig hearts.


The Colby Human Anatomy and Physiology class started escorting their visitors around the test that they had finished less than an hour earlier. 


Lauren Shirley is discussing the chambers of the heart with her fellow Colby students, Allison O’Connor (’17) and Cal Robbins (’17, Cellular/Molecular Biology) to the left and Dover-Foxcroft HS sophomores Bonnie (second from right) and Erika (far right).


Mayra, flanked by her Colby group members Ivan Yang (’17, Cellular/Molecular Biology, left) and Chris Lee (’17, Cellular/Molecular Biology, right) points to structures on a model of the heart to help Lincoln Academy seniors Abby (second from right) and Andrea (far right) understand what they are seeing on the dissected pig heart in front of them.


Erika getting a chance to look at the Edinburgh stereoscope slides.


Ivan discussing a cross sectional model of the spinal cord.


Can (John), a Lincoln Academy freshman (center), inspects a left coronary artery dissection as Colby students Yvette Qu (’18, left) and Alex Lucas (’17, Neuroscience & Sociology) look on.

11:10    The group moved to another lab where they put on gloves and aprons to dissect pig hearts. Each dissection station included a computer with loads of diagrams to assist in dissections. Under the Colby students’ guidance, the high schoolers dissected the hearts. Dr. Klepach moved around the room, answering questions as they came up. He took a few minutes to explain how blood moves into and out of the heart before and after birth.


Enormous cow heart ready for dissection.


Students preparing to dissect a pig heart try to orient themselves based upon surface anatomy. 


Danielle discussing the surface anatomy of the heart with Cierra, a  Dover-Foxcroft sophomore, and Shea-Lynn, a home schooled junior, as her classmates Ari Thomas (’16, Neuroscience, far left) and Laurel Edington (’15, Biology, second from left) look on.IMG_0344IMG_0312IMG_5945IMG_0315

Ashley (left) and Norma (center), seniors from Lincoln Academy, make the first cut into a pig heart as their Colby mentor, Rebecca Gray (’18, Biology / History), looks on.


Thilee, a senior from Lincoln Academy explores the left ventricle.


The aortic and mitral valves revealed!


Dr. K goes to the board to explain the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart.


12:00    Everyone got cleaned up and walked across campus to the Foss dining hall for lunch. Many people were drawn to the location as there was a noontime speaker in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The crowd was thick and the supply of dishes and cups was low, but the food was delicious. Dr. Klepach had reserved a room for the group to eat lunch together. Many of the high school students were a bit overwhelmed trying to get their food amid such a crowd.


12:45    The next stop was the Olin Building, to a lecture hall below the science library. The students returned to their groups and Dr. Klepach introduced the final activity of the day: developing testable questions for science fair projects. Using a SMART Questions document produced by MMSA, the students came up with questions related to anatomy or physiology. They honed their questions and discussed how they might go about answering the questions.
One group had a good discussion about parameters that students can easily measure such as blood pressure, pulse, body mass index and body fat percentage.
Two other groups were curious about the physiological effects of various emotional states such as fear or amusement. They considered the use of video clips to trigger different emotions.
Another group, spurred by one student’s interest in livestock, was stumped by how they might measure parameters in a cow.
One pair of high school students, knowing that they would not be doing a science fair project, took the time to ask their mentor about college life.
The final group wanted to explore body image, comparing how people view their weight to reality. They came up with a good research plan that involved anonymous surveys asking people to describe if they think they are underweight, overweight or at a healthy weight. The subjects would guess at their weight and then use a scale to determine their actual weight.
Dr. Klepach asked each group to report out and asked thought-provoking questions such as how students would isolate variables. He also asked the students about the limitations of common measurements such as body mass index.


1:45    To wrap up the day, all participants filled out surveys. High school students and college students took separate surveys that asked about their motivations for participating, what skills they honed and what they considered to be the day’s highlights.

I thoroughly enjoyed having the visitors in the class and look forward to having them back in the future for this and other activities.

~Dr. K

Tags: Lab · Special Activities · Uncategorized

JanPlan 2015 Lab: Cranial Osteology, Art and Anatomy, and more…

January 17th, 2015 · Comments Off on JanPlan 2015 Lab: Cranial Osteology, Art and Anatomy, and more…

The active learner is the engaged learner, thus lab is an essential part of the semester here in Human Anatomy & Physiology. Here are a few images from lab so far…


Cameron Matticks (’15) was a student in the class in January 2014, and has returned as our TA this year as part of an internship that has had him shadowing nurse practitioners in the wound care unit at Inland Hospital in Waterville.  Here he is sorting out the histology slides for an upcoming lab.


Left to right, Mayra Arroyo (’16), Ariel Oppong (’16), and Jay Lee (’15) in lab absorbed in the process of learning the osseous features of the cranium. Foramen magnum, foramen rotundum, foramen ovale, foramen spinosum… who knew there were so many holes in your head?


After the students learn the skeletal muscles in lab they get to test their knowledge in the Colby Museum of Art on the Art and Anatomy scavenger hunt. The students are given a specific muscle to search for that features prominently in an unnamed piece of art in the museum. As an additional clue they get a brief bit of art history on the piece in question.  Here Ari Thomas (’16) contemplates John Rogers’ The Wounded Scout: A Friend in the Swamp as she searches for the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle.


Alex Lucas (’17) and Yvette Qu (’18) try to decide which clue to pursue next after finding the deltoidius muscle in Malvina Hoffman’s Bacchanale Russe. The sculptor was a master of human anatomy. Prior to the date of this particular casting, she had upon the advice of the famous Auguste Rodin, with whom she studied, traveled to the prestigious Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, the town of her birth, to spend a year dissecting human cadavers and learning human anatomy, highlighting the close relationship between anatomy and art that has persisted throughout the ages.


Tags: Lab

Laurel Whitney: Pig Heart Dissection

February 14th, 2014 · Comments Off on Laurel Whitney: Pig Heart Dissection




In lab we performed wet dissections of pig hearts. It was a crazy experience for me. I had never done a dissection before, and after I got over the smell of the formaldehyde it was amazing! It was such a powerful way to learn about the heart. Being able to hold a real heart and see where blood actually traveled was incredible. It very helpful for practicing the anatomy of the heart. It was also an amazing experience to hold a real heart in my hands. I was in awe of how powerful the heart was. The design and structure where so precise and intricate. The lab was inspiring and very exciting. I couldn’t believe how perfect this structure was, a perfect machine.

Pictures I took from the dissection:


LarelWhitneyHEart LarelWhitneyHEart2Here I am holding the heart      LarelWhitneyHEart3

A nice view inside right ventricle of the heart

LarelWhitneyHEart4In this shot you can see the pulmonary semi-lunar valves


This pictures shows the trabeculae carne in the right ventricle of heart and the moderator band

Tags: Lab

Michaela Swiatek: Pig Heart Dissection

February 25th, 2013 · Comments Off on Michaela Swiatek: Pig Heart Dissection

During our dissection of a pig’s heart in lab, our class learned a great deal while doing this hands-on activity.  Most students were able to dissect their own heart, and several students shared a heart.  The first incision we made was  along the right side of the heart.  The right ventricle we identified by squeezing the heart.  We were able to do this because  the myocardium on the right side is much less rigid than that of the left ventricle.  This incision allowed us to see the tricuspid valve and the right ventricular outflow tract which includes the pulmonary valve.

Our second incision was into the right ventricle, which had to be cut open from the apex of the heart towards the top.

The next incision was into the tricuspid valve, which allows blood to flow from the right atrium into the right ventricle when the heart is relaxed during diastole.  I learned that when the heart begins to contract the heart centers a phase called systole, and the atrium pushes blood into the ventricle.  Then, the ventricle begins to contract and blood pressure exceeds the pressure in the atrium, the tricuspid valve snaps shut.

I was surprised to learn that a pig’s heart is very similar to the human heart in anatomy, size and function.  In fact, its excellent availability in most areas of the world, along with the similarities to the human heart, make porcine heart tissue ideal for transplant into receipt’s body, in the same way that a human’s donated organ would be rejected.  To prevent this, porcine heart valves are treated with glutaraldehyde to reduce their immunogenicity.

•I already knew that the muscle of your muscle is called the myocardium.  Most of the myocardium is located in the ventricles which are roughly the size of your fist.  The porcine heart, like a human heart, has four chambers and four valves.  Blood flows through the pig heart in the same manner as through a human’s.  This picture show’s the pig heart from the front, with the portion on the right of the picture being the left side of the heart vice versa. The aorta is clearly visible at the top, with the atrium on either side, while the ventricles are in the bottom left.
•Last, when the heart is contracting during systole, the pulmonary valve is open because the blood pushes the cusps out of the way.  Furthermore, at the end of the systole, the ventricles begin to relax and intra-ventricular pressure drops.  When the ventricular pressure drops to below the pulmonary artery pressure, the pulmonary valve closes and prevent back-flow of blood into the ventricle.
•I was surprised to learn that a pig’s heart is very similar to the human heart in anatomy, size and function.  In fact, its excellent availability in most areas of the world, along with the similarities to the human heart, make porcine heart tissue ideal for transplant into body’s receipt body, in the same way that a human’s donated organ would be rejected.  To prevent this, porcine valves are treated with glutaraldehyde to reduce their immunogenicity.
•I already knew that the muscle of your heart is called the myocardium.  Most of the myocardium is locate in the ventricles which are roughly the size of your  fist.  The porcine heart, like a human heart, has four chambers and four valves.  Blood flows through the pig heart in the same manner as through a human’s.

Tags: Lab

Art and Anatomy Field Trip to Bowdoin College Art Museum

January 13th, 2013 · Comments Off on Art and Anatomy Field Trip to Bowdoin College Art Museum

This past Thursday our Human Anatomy and Physiology class was given an opportunity to experience and learn anatomy through the artwork of the Bowdoin College Art Museum.  The works of art that we examined presented various anatomical features of the human body.  Carefully analyzing each piece, it was incredibly intriguing to find that so many pieces of art created by various ancient artists, revealed and glorified various parts of the human body.


Tags: Lab · Special Activities