Baldwin Heights students get hands-on experience with dissection exercise


By Curtis Wildfong • Last Updated 11:34 am on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Students, from left, Xavier Stanford, Madi Durdle and Jacon Guild dissect one of the many pig lungs on display for Baldwin Heights Elementary fifth graders Monday. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

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.

Sarah Stephenson, a student in Mindy Hepinstall’s fifth grade class, removes the tracheal tube from the lung during the classroom’s dissection of a pig lung. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

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.”

Fifth grade students Zoe Hallock, left, and Jayden Windle use a pump to inflate and deflate the pig lung to get an idea how the organ takes in oxygen. — Daily News/Curtis Wildfong

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.

The goal?

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.

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