Science Club Gets to the Heart of the Matter With Dissection

The Montrose School Science Club dissected a sheep’s heart recently in an exercise led by Montrose Anatomy teacher Kristine Forsgard. 
Mrs. Forsgard provided six sheep hearts to the club, and students worked in groups of two or three per heart. 

“The dissection was an opportunity to spark curiosity,” said Mrs. Forsgard. “The girls got to have  a sense of the miracle of life - to see a heart which is the most amazing pump in the universe - how fragile and tough it is at the same time. It’s a chance for the girls to open their eyes and observe without the pressure of a grade or formal lab report.”

Students typically perform dissections in Mrs. Forsgrad’s Anatomy and Physiology class, but this was a first for the Science Club, which began this year. Thirty-eight students are members. 

“This is the first time we have done anything like it in a club setting that was available to anyone who had interest in it,” said Science Club moderator and teacher Monica Baker. “It was great because we had students from both middle school and upper school.”

The impetus for the project came from sophomores Cate Lynch and Leslie Baker, who were eager for an extra hands-on experience in biology, where they could explore the organ freely without the confines of a formal assignment. As a result, students followed their natural curiosity and formulated their own research questions. The project was a natural fit for Montrose, where faculty prioritize helping girls be the drivers of their own education. 

“We were able to explore without pressure,” said Leslie, who made a hypothesis about her specimen based on her observations. “We found little black dots that we thought could be cancer, but they were really blood clots.”

For Cate, the hands-on experience of a dissection inspired appreciation for the complexity and robustness of nature. 

“The texture was durable,” remarked Cate of the sheep’s heart. “It made you really think about how tough the body is.”

For both students the dissection deepened their interest in biology and anatomy. Performing the dissection in an environment that encouraged curiosity and student-led learning inspired authentic inquisitiveness and a desire to learn more. Science club students are looking forward to doing more dissections in the future and finding their place in the driver’s seat of science education - no matter where the road may take them.

“It’s about wonder,” said Mrs. Forsgard. “And giving students a chance to relax and learn.”