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South Jordan Journal

South Jordan Elementary sixth-graders not spooked by blood, gore

Nov 03, 2017 12:20PM ● By Julie Slama

A South Jordan Elementary sixth-grader uses a straw to inflate a cow’s lungs as students learn about the heart, lungs and eyes as part of their Halloween party. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

South Jordan Elementary sixth-graders weren’t grossed out by it but rather engrossed with it.

It being dissecting a cow’s heart, lungs and eyes as part of their Halloween party.

“This gives them some exposure to learning about their bodies,” said teacher Bonnie Crockett. “Some kids are a little nervous before hand, but most of them really get into it once we start.”

Sixth-grader Eleanor Woolley said she wasn’t sure about it before the dissection.

“I was scared a little bit,” she said. “I don’t like seeing blood.”

Once she and her classmates had on their gloves and were posed questions by Principal Ken Westwood, she began answering them. 

Westwood compared the size of the cow’s heart to the size of the students — “about the size of your fist” — and the size of a blue whale’s — “the size of a Volkswagen bug,” he told the sixth-graders.

He quizzed the students about lactic acid, how people have heart attacks, what makes the sound of the heart pumping and the function of blood vessels. He also pointed to the thickness of the muscle and encouraged students to feel the weight of the heart, lungs and trachea.

Eleanor said her favorite parts were feeling the heart, which was “squishy like slime,” and blowing through a straw into the cow’s lungs.

Classmate Lexi Hair also liked inflating the lungs.

“I had to get a good breath to get it through the straw so the lungs would rise,” she said. “It’s really cool how I could learn about the heart since I’ve had heart surgery.”

Lexi’s surgery was when she was just three days old. Among her heart problems was the fact that she had six holes in her heart.

“I can understand now how the blood pumps through the lungs and how it works better,” she said. 

Lexi’s mom, Angel, purchased the cow’s heart and lungs from Dale T. Smith & Son’s in Draper for $25.

“I’ve done this for all four of my kids,” she said. “I think it’s a great way for them to learn and explore.”

Hair said she got the idea from computer teacher Janet Hoffman, who taught her oldest child.

While both parent volunteer Jill Wallace, who works in the medical field, and Westwood talked to students about the heart and lungs, the principal was the one who dissected the eyes in front of the students — and he didn’t get squeamish.

Westwood, who has both a farming background and a science degree in botany, said as a former sixth- and seventh-grade teacher, he has performed many dissections.

“I’m probably more familiar with dissecting a cow than most people,” he said. “My students had lots of opportunities to cut open, examine carefully and feel free to question what they were dissecting. I enjoy all things science, especially biological science.”

While munching on Halloween candy, students asked questions as Westwood pointed out the lens, gel, optical nerve and iris.

Crockett said it’s a good way to mix the fun of Halloween with education.

“I like them to have more of a learning opportunity, and this is a great way they can learn about health,” she said.