Biology, The Science of Life

Lab: Pig Fetus Dissection

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Overview: Today’s lesson is focused on encompassing the lessons on the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems in a lab. Students will dissect a pig fetus and will be required to identify various organs from these three systems. This lab is very exciting because most of the internal anatomy is similar to humans. This lab is a great method of engaging students to witness biology in real life. Moreover, biology ties into broader social issues, from abortion to genetic engineering; this pig dissection also raises social ethical issues. Students will be presented with an article regarding this as a means to demonstrate the different points of views society has towards biology.

Materials: Students will need a dissection tool kit, pig fetus, dissection procedure sheet, pen or pencils to check off the identified organs. A Power Point presentation of a dissection which was completed prior to the assigned one will be presented to guide the students in the right direction and give them an idea of what they should be looking for before they proceed with the dissection. Therefore, the teacher will need access to the class computer, projector, and screen. The Power Point presentation is available for download above. The article “Fetal Pig: The High School Dissection Experience” by Gracia Barr and Harold Herzog will also be consulted at the beginning of the lesson and is available in a link below. The Power Point presentation will be used as a media teaching tool.

Assessment: The instructor will monitor the dissections and grade each group on 5, for a total worth of 5% of their final grade. Grading will be based on the students’ ability to properly apply the dissection techniques and to properly identify the organs in question. If a student butchers the fetus and/or dissects it in improper ways, the student will be asked to leave the lab and will obtain a grade of zero. This method of assessment was chosen because it is important to apply proper laboratory techniques when doing a lab. Grading the students on their techniques will make them aware of what, how, and why they are applying a certain technique. The total assessment of 5% is not too heavy on their final grade, thereby allowing the students to still have fun while performing the lab and to not be worried about their final grade outcome.

Extra Notes: Students will perform the lab in groups of two. Since this is a lab, this lesson is 1.5 hours in length. If students do not feel comfortable doing the lab or it goes against their ethical practices, they may be excused from the lab. They will however, have to complete an extra assignment for 5% of their final grade. The class is already set up with the dissection kits at the tables as a means to provide more time for discussion.

Lecture Material:
  • Science in Society: Review and discuss the article “Fetal Pig: The High School Dissection Experience” (20 minutes)
  • Present Power Point on the dissection (10 min)
  • Pig Dissection (50 minutes)
Read the first 4 pages of the article to the students (until the “Observations and Procedures” section).  Post the article on the screen using the class computer so students can follow.

Engage the students in a discussion regarding the ethical and social issues brought up in the text.
Questions may include:
  1. Is dissecting a fetus animal cruelty? (Can tie into abortion)
  2. Would you want to go to a doctor who has learnt surgery from a computer simulation?
  3. How do you feel about dissecting a pig in high school? Should it only be reserved to higher educational levels, like CEGEP or University?
Engaging in these questions will promote the students to think critically about various views society has towards the sciences. It will also increase awareness among the students towards the consequences of their actions as scientists.

Present the Power Point on the guidelines to the dissection. Explain how to begin the dissection and which organs they should be looking for using the images on the Power Point.
Hand out the procedure sheet (link below). Allow students to start the dissection.
Students will have a printed version of this document.
Students must identify ALL compartments listed in the document in bold letters and must check them off as they proceed.

Assessment Rubric:
Preforms proper laboratory techniques 1 mark
Pig dissection is done according to the guidelines 2 marks
Identified major organs 2 marks