Greenville fifth-graders get a chance to look beyond books

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 1:21 pm on Monday, January 09, 2012

Student learn about the respiratory system of pigs by using pig plucks in Mindy Hepinstall’s fifth-grade classroom on Friday at Baldwin Heights Elementary. Owen Young, 10, (left) laughs with Wyatt Douglas, 10, over how the internal parts feel. — Daily News/Kelli Ameling

GREENVILLE — Greenville fifth-graders had the opportunity to use actual pig anatomy to learn about the respiratory system and the negative effects of tobacco use.

About 100 pig plucks were donated by Sage’s Meat Processing in Greenville for the students in the district to use.

Pig plucks are anatomy pieces from a pig that include trachea, lungs and the diaphragm.

“We did a science unit on the human body and the respiratory system,” said Mindy Hepinstall, a fifth-grade teacher at Baldwin Heights Elementary. “This is a way for (the students) to actually see what it looks like.”

Students were put into groups with parent volunteers to help dissect the pig plucks. After performing procedures to make the lungs inflate, the groups sliced the lungs open to see what they looked like on the inside.

From there, the groups were able to dissect the pieces however they wanted to learn more about the parts and to see how everything worked.

“It was cool to cut up things and do things on our own,” said Gavin Cossou, 10.

He described when his group cut open the throat that they thought it was cool there were hairs in the throat.

He said the project not only taught him about the different parts but how to be careful when cutting just like a doctor.

“It’s cool to know (a pig’s anatomy) are just like us,” he said.

The project’s focus was to inform the students about the negative consequences of tobacco use, said Jennifer DenOuden, spokeswoman for Spectrum Health United Memorial.

She said the Greenville Public School staff was trained last fall in the curriculum by the United Lifestyles staff.

DenOuden said the program was made possible by the Greenville Area Community Foundation, Spectrum Health United Lifestyles and Tobacco Free Montcalm.

“The hospital has been more than generous,” Hepinstall said.

Hepinstall said this project showed the students that opportunities in health care are not something to be scared of.

Hepinstall said she would not have been able to do this project without the help of the volunteers.

“They are the best parent volunteers,” Hempinstall said. “I love my parent volunteers.”

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