By Perry Groten
Some students in Sioux Falls have completed a classroom project just in time for Halloween.
Sophomores at New Technology High School borrowed a page from a classic horror story to learn about how the human body works. Think of it as a class in boo-ology.
These New Technology High School students are paging their inner Dr. Frankenstein.
“Cosmetic surgery is about to go up, that’s what I think,” New Tech High sophomore Kerubel Alemayehu said.
The students are creating their own Frankenstein’s monster by stuffing a plastic skeleton with homemade body parts.
“It was really cool seeing blood vessels being added in and all that as well as where the brain was and where to put the lungs,” New Tech High sophomore Kim Vu said.
Students in this Intro to Biology class split into groups with each group responsible for building a set of the monster’s organs. Kim Voo’s group created the respiratory system.
“So our system was basically in charge of getting oxygen into the body as well as getting rid of CO2,” Vu said.
The students also had to explain to the rest of the class the workings of each body part. This is vintage project-based learning that New Tech High specializes in. Rather than pouring over textbooks or listening to classroom lectures, these students work together in groups in a hands-on approach to studying anatomy. The course work isn’t for the squeamish.
“A few days ago, we were dissecting fetal pigs. I had to name them all in order not to throw up,” Alemayehu said.
The students also created videos that explain how they built the body parts, adding humor to what could otherwise be a ghoulish undertaking.
“There was a lot of adaptation about it. We had to change a lot of rules, mess around with the script a little in order to get it done on time, but it came out pretty well,” Alemayehu said.
“I am very impressed with the videos. They managed to marry the content and their own versions of the humor and they had a lot of great themes that were also in the graphic novel,” teacher Melissa Hittner said.
The students read the graphic novel based upon the Mary Shelley classic Frankenstein. This class dovetails literature into biology to learn about Dr. Frankestein’s ill-fated scientific pursuit.
“He was very obsessed with learning about the living, so he created a life form out of like studying the dead and all that. But in the end, he became scared of his own monster,” Vu said.
This monster isn’t about to rise up and terrorize the local villagers. After all, it’s pretty hard to move around when your skin is made out of paper, and you have a stomach that’s a football and your intestines are a bunch of wires wrapped around and your liver is made of Silly Putty!
“I don’t think he’s going to make it. But they did a really good job of representing the organs that they were supposed to install,” Hittner said.
An assignment in anatomy that’s not about creating a future generation of mad scientists. But rather, to inspire students to become mad about science.
The class is already thinking ahead to Frankenstein 2.0. They want to secure funding to buy a ready-made, anatomically-correct monster into which they can install body parts. As you saw, a hollow skeleton, spooky as it may appear, isn’t a very good container for the organs.