How much do you know about squirrels? Yes, we have seen them in our backyards, while we are walking down the streets, and even in our windows; but the girls were going to learn a more detailed view on squirrels. Yes, today we did a squirrel dissection!!
Today we had a special guest, Dr. Anna Goldman, who works at the Field Museum in Chicago! Dr. Goldman came to our program to teach the girls about biology and mammal anatomy, through dissection of a squirrel. She first showed the girls how she skins the squirrels first, very carefully to show the tendons and the muscles/fat of the squirrel. She also had to slide the skin off and that’s when more shouts from the girls began. Mya, a 7th grader, was the most curious one and never left Dr Goldman’s side. She was not scared one bit and was very eager to see the inside of the squirrel. She soon got her wish.
After skinning the squirrel it was time to show the insides; in order to show what really goes on inside the body. A few girls grew squeamish, like Sarah and Don’ya, and others were perfectly fine with the extra blood. The girls overall were disgusted but fascinated at the same time. Some of the bravest of the girls were our new 5th graders, Jakayla and Semajah. They were not scared one bit to touch the squirrel and paid very close attention to what Dr. Goldman was teaching. Another 5th grader, Janiah, was the animal lover of the session. She actually reminded myself of a young me. She said “how can she just cut the squirrel open like that, that is so mean.” She asked Dr. Goldman, “You don’t feel bad in cutting up this defenseless animal?” Dr. Goldman and I explained to her that this is all part of research. The squirrel is no longer living, do it doesn’t feel a thing and it is not suffering. It was nice to see that she truly had sympathy for the squirrel.
The main parts the girls had learned about was the liver, vagina, tendons, the trachea, the intestines, and of course the heart. The heart was a nice lesson for Dr. Goldman made the girls make a fist and said “As your fist grows, so does your heart”. A valuable metaphor for all of us. I could tell this was a very memorable experience for them because they continuously asked Dr. Goldman to come back. I know the girls loved today just as much as I did.