Friday, December 23, 2005

Dissect This!

I remember when I was a young StudentWonk the mixture of dread and excitement that we experienced when we dissected worms and frogs in our junior high school science class.

But I would imagine that the interest level was particularly high when about 70 fourth grade students were able to dissect
something a little more unusual:
Their parents may have dissected fetal pigs and frogs, but today's science students get to explore the anatomies of sharks.

That was the case recently at Countryside Elementary School in Byron Center when about 70 fourth-graders, under the direction of retired science teacher Marsha Tester, studied 20-inch dogfish sharks during a special science project.

"I was scared at first," fourth-grader Michelle Catalano said of handling the dead sharks.

"But it's not really scary. It's just really cool."

Michelle said she discovered the sharks have small spikes on the backs of their fins "to protect them from other animals."

Tester, who taught elementary-age students at Kentwood Schools before she retired five years ago, said she frequently heads special science classes throughout the Kentwood school district and sometimes at schools in neighboring districts.

While she said she does not always use sharks in her dissecting classes, Tester said the medium-sized dogfish shark is the right size of specimen for elementary-age students to study.
I just wonder if fourth grade might have been a little young for this, but the kids seemed to have enjoyed the experience.
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