Human Anatomy at Colby

Alexandria Lucas: Meeting with High School Anatomy Students

February 24th, 2015 · Comments Off on Alexandria Lucas: Meeting with High School Anatomy Students

Alexandria Lucas_237129_assignsubmission_file_ALucasSophMajorPic

In high school, I never had an opportunity similar to this one in which I was able to visit a college science class and interact so directly with the college students and the material they are learning. Not only did they get to come and visit, but they were able to dissect a pig’s heart and we were there to help them do it! I do not know what have been a cooler fieldtrip in high school than this one.

It was very interesting and engaging because as we walked around and took them through the lab exam we had just taken, they could identify some of the anatomy and share knowledge about things we may not have learned because they too were currently in an anatomy class. In addition, it was helpful to be in the teaching role as we described and identified the anatomy on the different models. I think this truly works as a way to understand and learn the material better, and is not often a position that us college students are in. This particular lab test was on the heart, eye, ear, and the brain.


After taking them around our lab exam, we went downstairs to dissect the pigs’ hearts. Each group had their own heart to dissect, and it was both an opportunity for the students to learn about some of the anatomy we had just reviewed as well as to explore whatever pieces of the heart they found intriguing further. Some groups dove right into ripping apart the heart, while others took more reserved action and precise cutting to open the heart.


The purpose of this field trip was initially supposed to be meeting with the students to help them come up with ideas for the Maine Math and Science Alliance Science Fair. Because of our current class, we brainstormed ideas that directly related to anatomy and physiology, such as do different styles of music have an effect on the heart rate, or do different color filters of light effect pupil dilation in similar or varying ways.

Perhaps my favorite part of the day, which was the only unplanned part as it happened, was answering questions the group of students I was showing around had on college science classes, premed requirements, college class schedules, and more. Before I came to Colby, I truly had no idea what college was like, and needless to say I also had no idea how classes, lectures, exams, etc. operated. They were very curious about what a typical day looks like and what is different about high school classes versus college classes, and the two biggest things I shared were that exams make up very large portion of your grade particularly in science class, for very infrequently do you have daily homework assignments that significantly contribute to your grade like in high school. I also shared the much greater need for independent learning and studying in college, for it is your responsibility to make sure you understand the material covered in class during lecture and to study outside of class if you don’t. It was fun to be able to reflect on the time I have had here at Colby so far and share my learning and knowledge with students who will soon be headed off to college themselves.

Tags: Bi265j · Special Activities

Laurel Edington: MMSA Mentoring Session

February 24th, 2015 · Comments Off on Laurel Edington: MMSA Mentoring Session


One of my favorite parts of this month was mentoring high school students involved in the Maine Math and Science Alliance. Each grand rounds group was paired with two high school students. The two girls my group worked with were named Shea-Lynn and Cierra. Shea is a home-schooled junior and Cierra is a sophomore at Dover-Foxcroft. The plan for the day was to show them around the lab, talk to them about anatomy and physiology, and help them come up with ideas for a science fair project.

Before the students arrived, we took our second lab practical and then walked around talking about the answers to the exam so that we could show the high school students what we have been learning over the past week.


IMG_5584            When they arrived and we were in our groups, we went through the entire exam with them. We all looked at the models and slides, explained the answers to each question, and explained the functions of each anatomical structure. This was great because it reinforced the material. Over the past few days I had been trying to memorize all of the structures of the neurons/spinal cord/brain, eyes and ears, and the cardiovascular system. By explaining the structures and functions to Shea and Cierra, it helped me to learn and understand the material even more.


After the lab tour, each group dissected another pig heart since there were some hearts left over from the week before. I was really excited that I was able to be involved in a dissection on this day because I wasn’t able to be in class when we did the dissections the week before. Shea and Cierra, although a little timid at first, dove right in and were able to find the aortic and pulmonary valves very quickly. They did the of the dissection while we instructed and did a little demonstrating.



The last part of the day (after a quick lunch break) was used to help the students come up with topics for science fair projects based on anatomy and physiology. Cierra’s family owns a farm with over 50 beef cows so she wanted to do a project based on livestock. Together, we all came up with the idea of seeing how different types of food affect the growth of the cows. If she did this project, she was thinking of finding the mass and other size measurements for the cows of different ages and comparing the measurements between the cows that were fed hay and the cows that were fed grain. Shea was interested in determining if different emotions caused changes in blood pressure and heart rate. We talked about having people watch different videos that would cause them to experience different emotions and then she would take heart rate and blood pressure measurements before and after the videos to detect any changes. This day was very rewarding because we were able to reinforce what we have been learning, help high school students become excited about science, and we were able to have a great time.



Tags: MMSA Mentoring Session · Special Activities

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

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