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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Anatomy & Dissection Club Pours Their Hearts Into First Dissection of the Year

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  • With precision, Nicole Wang ’24 dissects a sheep’s heart. As Vice President of Anatomy & Dissection Club, Wang collaborates with other officers to pick the specimen for each dissection. “I don’t think I learned much because I do this dissection so much,” Wang said. “But it’s still cool to see it up close. The heartstrings are always really fun.”

  • Using a scalpel, Tyler Martinez ’27 inspects the inside of a sheep heart. The sheep heart dissection provided club members the hands-on opportunity to explore the anatomy of mammal hearts.

  • Collaborating, club members Alyssa Beekman ’24 and Eli Song ’24 carefully dissect their sheep heart. Club members used tools, such as scalpels, to cut up their specimens. “I like knowing how things work inside the body,” Beekman said.

  • After dissecting the officer team’s sheep heart, Anatomy & Dissection Club Secretary Mishree Narasaiah ’25 discusses the bisected specimen with Vice President Nicole Wang ’24. The officer team collaborated to dissect their own specimen, while still walking around to help and support other club members.

  • At the beginning of the dissection, Anatomy & Dissection Club President Sanjay Balasubramanian ’24 answers a club member’s questions. The sheep heart dissection provided many opportunities for club members to expand their knowledge of the internal structures of sheep hearts.

  • Using the slides as guidance, club members Ava Poursepanj ’26, Nathan Aguilar ’26, and Sydney Daigle ’26 prepare to begin their dissection. Created by club officers, the slides explained the dissection process in detail, including images and background information.

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Anatomy & Dissection Club gathered to dissect sheep hearts in Mr. Eric Scheiber’s room on Friday, Oct. 27. Chosen by club officers, the sheep heart dissection was the club’s first dissection of the school year, and served as an introduction to the more complex specimens the club is planning to study later in the year.

“The officers come together [and] there’s a variety of specimens they can choose,” Mr. Scheiber said. “They can get simple organs that were, for lack of better words, taken from animals. But we can pay a little more to have the cardiovascular system dyed certain colors, things like that. We typically start smaller and work our way up to a nice, big, expensive specimen in the spring.”

Throughout its five years of existence, Anatomy & Dissection Club has grown in terms of both membership and the diversity of specimens selected.

“I remember that in the beginning, we kept it to simple organs and we haven’t seen it yet this year, but last year we did turtles [and] fetal pigs, so we’re kind of changing it to different animal groups,” Mr. Scheiber said.

To prepare for dissections, club officers discuss their goals for the process and what they want to focus on. After the specimen is selected, they create slides to instruct club members on how to carry out the process.

“I had to research all the parts of the heart and understand it to teach people how to dissect,” Anatomy & Dissection Club President Sanjay Balasubramanian ‘24 said. “I learned more about the sheep heart, like the different valves it has, and all of the different aortas. While making the slides, I had to make sure I made it understandable for the general population instead of just using slang. That was probably the most challenging part.”

From both the slides and the hands-on experience of the dissection, club members had the opportunity to expand their knowledge of anatomy.

“It’s been a while since I actually saw a sheep heart, or just a heart in general,” club member Alyssa Beekman ‘24 said. “I think just reminding myself of all the really cool stuff that goes on inside animal bodies, and how amazing evolution is to be able to evolve something so complex it keeps everyone alive, is so cool. I think the best way to [learn] that is dissecting.”

In addition to learning, some club members are motivated to attend dissections simply because they enjoy cutting up the specimens.

“[The best part was] probably post-dissection when you’re finished with all your cuts and you just get to play around, have fun, dig a little bit deeper, [and] do some questionable things,” Anatomy & Dissection Club Vice President Nicole Wang ‘24 said. “The biggest challenge was inspecting the structures and labeling them. I usually have so much fun I don’t really take into consideration that I’m supposed to be seeing the internal structures. It’s more of a community activity with my friends.”

Anatomy & Dissection Club will study the internal organs of squid during their next meeting.

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Prima Changwatchai, Community & World News Editor
Class of 2025 I love writing, photography, and design, so I’m thrilled to be on Student Press! When I’m not doing journalism work, I’m still typing up stories and taking photographs, only I’m also doing the daily New York Times puzzles, making little doodles in my math notebook, reading anything from poetry to fantasy fiction, learning new songs on the piano, and overthinking everything.

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