GREENVILLE — It doesn’t get any more hands-on than a student with a pair of surgical gloves, a scalpel and a pig lung.
As part of their study of the human body and its organs, fifth-graders at Baldwin Heights Elementary School in Greenville dissected pig lungs and hearts Monday afternoon to get a glimpse at something similar to their own organs.
“What you see in your trays is very close to what’s in your body,” said teacher Mindy Hepinstall, adding that a pig’s organs also closely resemble those of a human.
Then, with a chaperone and some brief instructions, students took scalpel to tissue.
“This is giving them the hands-on opportunity to get to feel the tracheal tube and the different parts of the lung and how the lung looks,” Hepinstall said. “Half the fun is letting them have at it, the freedom of exploration.”
And the students had no problem digging in … well, most of them.
“This is the best part of science I’ve ever had,” said student John Kroesing II.
Students viewed veins and arteries, tested the strength of the heart muscle and felt the textures of the tracheal tube and lungs.
“We got to feel what the tracheal tube was like. Some was bumpy and some was soft,” said student Jacob Guild. “We stuck our fingers through the heart and they came out the other side.”
Student Xavier Stanford was surprised at the heart’s strength and even more intrigued by the feel of the tracheal tube.
“The heart is pretty much the hardest thing to cut,” he said. “You got to feel a lot of really bumpy stuff.”
The lungs were courtesy of Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville, which through the United Lifestyles initiative awarded a grant to Baldwin Heights for the dissection.
Following the exam of the lungs on Monday, with a more detailed look at hearts next week, students will then conduct “surgeries” on a mold of the human torso. Working alongside surgical nurses from Spectrum, students will “open up” a body cast, exposing molds of different organs.
According to Hepinstall, it is to expand students’ knowledge of the human body and to open their minds to a potential career.
“It really turns a lot of these kids on to the health field,” she said.