Thornapple Kellogg School District

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MS STEM Class Gives Students Hands-On Lessons

Teacher Shaun Davis said no students are forced to take part in this lesson and some may start the dissections, only to find they are not able to complete it. Davis said he has other lessons for those students, but he said he also believes it is important to give students the opportunity to conduct dissections.

Davis said the frogs, already dead when they arrive at school, come from commercial frog farms.

"Frogs have many of the same organs as humans and they are easy to see. We talk about the different organs, where they are located and what their functions are," said Davis. "If students don't get to do this dissection in this STEM class, they won't have the opportunity until high school."

"It's very interesting," said Dawson Clous, who with his partner were examining the organs.

Some students have never done anything like this before. Others say it's not much different than when they go out hunting.

"I  have never really done this before, but I've seen my Dad doing it when we go hunting kind of. It's very interesting," said Tristen Beck.

Addyson Hoffman admitted she was "a little freaked out"  at first, but said it's been a really good lesson and a great chance to really see the organs.

Davis said dissections gives students a chance to see and explore the various organs in real size and location and gives them a better understanding of how they work together. While a frog's organs and systems are not exactly like a human's, Davis said there are many similarities.

In addition to learning about organs, students also learn about ecology and evolution through frog dissection. Certain body structures and adaptations can be seen in frogs that illustrate how they evolved over time and how they fill particular niches in the ecosystems.

"No model, no video, no diagram and no movie can duplicate the fascination, the sense of discovery, wonder and even awe that students feel when they find real structures in their own specimens," wrote Davis.

Davis teaches an elective STEM class that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. His class includes many hands-on projects in the STEM subjects including building balsa wood towers to withstand earthquakes and designing and engineering cardboard cars and testing them to see how far they can travel.