A Purr-fect learning experience

The Anatomy and Physiology classes dissect and defining cats in order to learn more about different muscles and provide a good hands on learning experience to prepare them for futures in varying medical occupations.

Mrs. Zuber’s students dissect a series of different cats in order to obtain a visual representation of the material. Over the past two weeks a series of students work with meticulous care to define different muscles of the already skinned cats. They prepare for a practicum which consists of identifying all 46 muscles of the cat and being able to know exactly what the function of each muscle is. The students are split up into small groups of three or four and then go through their daily procedures and studying processes in hopes of memorizing all of the muscles and groupings.

 As stated previously, there are 46 different muscles that the Anatomy and Physiology students must learn. Yet while dissecting cats is an experience many hope to never encounter, to some people many of the students look forward to the day that they began to dissect and define.


“ I was more than excited to start dissections and I always look forward to dissecting the cats, even though it smells”  Amna Boltic Sophomore


Although the cat dissections enthrall many students, they all have a common complaint. The smell. The cats laced with preserved, and they arrived skinned to the school in a vacuum sealed bag. The preservatives used in cats today usually consist of Phenoxyethanol and lesser portions of formaldehyde. These chemicals give off a strong smell, even more so for people who are not always exposed to the smell.

“Some days the smell is near unbearable. You feel like you should wear goggles while you peel fascia off of the organism. You live in this mental state that resides halfway between ecstatic to dissect and trying to avoid gagging, but I would not change it for the world” Cheyanne Boss- Freshman


The idea of dissecting and observing preserved specimen is an idea that makes many squirm in their seats, the anatomy and physiology students however, admit that having the specimen is crucial in their learning process. The students need to be able to identify every single muscle in a timed period during their final practicum. This task appears daunting no matter what the circumstance. However, many students appear confident for this portion of the exam. They are able to practice daily and since they have the cats in front of them, the students all work together pinning different muscles and quizzing one another to make sure that they all learned the material.

 “I am more than confident for the portion of the exam where I have to identify muscles. I practiced for this exam over and over, and I will ace that portion of the exam. However, the functions might be a different story.” Amna Boltic Sophomore


 Now this dissection opportunity doesn’t always happen. Previous classes could not afford the cats and had to memorize all of the muscle groups without visuals. Speaking to some of the students from years previous, most students expressed disappointment that they did not get the same opportunity to dissect cats. Some went as far as saying they should take the class again just to experience the dissections. Everyone who took Anatomy and physiology adore the idea of dissecting cats and all of them disappointed because if  they took the class in a year that they didn’t have cats.

 “ I wish that I got to dissect cats, it seems like i missed out on an amazing opportunity. I still adored the class and I wouldn’t trade it for a different experience. I am glad I took the class when I did. I just wish that our class got to do something that cool.” Erica Buhk Senior

 The Anatomy and Physiology labs create an outstanding experience for a wide variety of students attending the classes. Every student, even though they are nervous for the practicum that looms ahead, were grateful for such a unique learning experience. These intricate hands on labs helped the Anatomy students obtain so much more knowledge that they previously could due to a different form of learning. Being able to work with cats made an immense difference in the learning of the anatomy and physiology of the cats because the students, gifted the experience of exploration seized the wonderful learning opportunity . It is an entire hour where students can explore, discover, and question in hopes of preparing them for the future careers  that they all hope to pursue.

 The opportunity that the Jenison High school provides for students benefits so many, and provides learning opportunities that will last a lifetime.

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