Examining Human Organs to Encourage Healthy Living
How do the choices we make today, affect the well-being of our bodies, minds, and spirits now and and in the future? This was the question recently posed to second graders as a continuation to their Healthy Me unit.
Earlier in the unit, Expert in Residence, parent, and Scottish Rite Emergency Room Physician’s Assistant Jennifer Rego visited the second grade to discuss germs (viruses & bacteria). The students were very curious and eager to learn how to keep their bodies healthy and germ-free.
After sharing her expertise with the entire grade, Rego was curious if students would benefit from viewing healthy and unhealthy human organs and if it might be impactful to create a visible learning experience. With enthusiastic clearance from leadership, and guidance from second grade teacher Melissa Rothbard, Rego worked with a pathologist to select a variety of healthy and unhealthy organs to bring to the School.
The organs brought in to be displayed and explored were a brain, a cross-section of a brain, a spinal cord, and a set of both healthy and unhealthy heart and lungs. Additionally, she showed a deer’s heart, demonstrating the similarities between different mammals’ hearts.
Treating the student as young scientists, Rego expected respect and maturity from the children before she brought out the organs. Setting the stage for a true scientific investigative discovery, she talked about each organ, their functions, location in the body, and identifiable characteristics. Comparing healthy organs to unhealthy organs, she shared the causes and effects of certain behaviors, such as exercise, smoking, over-eating, eating a good balance of food, etc. Rego also took the opportunity to share how organs are protected within our bodies – by the skull and ribcage.
The students asked a lot of really great questions:
“Where did the organs come from?”
“How old are the organs?”
“Were these all from one person?”
“How did you get the organs?”
One student asked if the enlarged heart was from a person who had heart disease.
Melissa Rothbard reflected on the experience, too: “I was amazed at the weight of the brain. I was shocked to see how fragile a spinal cord is. Looking at the hearts – especially the unhealthy one – made me think about how I care for my heart. This has been an amazing unit – a theme we will continue to focus on all year long. These kids are beginning to realize that the choices that they make have a real impact and learning cause and effect relationships pertaining to their own bodies. How amazing would this lesson be if in inspired even one child to live a happier, healthier, and more active life?”