Friday, June 24, 2011

Sixth Grade Fish Dissection

Part of our sixth grade curriculum, in the unit covering classification of animals, body systems, etc., is a lab assignment to dissect a fish. When we were kids, in America, we did earthworms, eventually moving to frogs in the higher levels and finally dissecting fetal pigs in high school.Thailand, being a Buddhist country, goes with fish. I'm assuming this is why we don't dissect frogs or pigs here...maybe other schools and other textbooks do, but we don't.As long as we tell the kids that we will give the butchered fish to the school cook, and he will fry them up, they don't seem as concerned about killing and butchering the fish. Again, I'm not sure if religion has anything to do with the fact that we slice and dice fish here instead of frogs.This year's sixth graders, being mostly girls, was always going to be fun. The kids had been asking for a week already if we were going to do the dissection project and I kept telling them that we might.They made disgusted faces every time I said maybe. One Monday morning I told them that I had spent Sunday at the market and that I had seen bunny rabbits for 140 baht each, about $5. I told them that since the bunnies weren't so expensive, that we would be dissecting bunnies instead of fish. The 13 girls in the class were quite disturbed by the thought of slaughtering a cute little bunny, but the boys were overly excited! I even went as far as to ask their preference, flop eared bunnies or normal eared bunnies! Yes, they call me evil.I spent my lunch hour (50 minutes somehow is called lunch "hour") at the market buying knives, gloves and fish. I let the Thai teachers make the purchase for me last year and 8 frozen solid small fish showed up in a freezer a few hours before our I decided to go get the fish I wanted to get and fresh ones, not frozen ones.I got some pinkish or peach colored fish, similar to the black ones we dissected last year. I got one special long fish for whatever team wanted to do something different.We spent the 50 minute class cutting and chopping and mangling with our little knives. Lab knives would be nice, but the school won't reimburse for those as they cost about as much for one of those as it cost for all of the kitchen knives combined! No big deal though. For the level of dissection that we were doing the detail wasn't important, as long as we could get into the abdomen.The kids had fun finding the organs that we had talked about in the previous day's class and were interested to finally see the actual swim bladder (air bladder) in the fish when filleted in the proper way. They especially liked the eyes, popping them out and acting like they are sucking on them.Several girls had nothing to do with the lopping off of body parts and organs. Others dug right in and had a good, hands on learning experience.They want me to bring a cow and dissect it next week when we move on to mammals...I SURE WISH I COULD SWING IT!!


mardenheyjude said...

Pick fish. Cool.... I would have enjoyed it better if we had pink frogs when I was in grade school. haha

Your make a funny face pictures were great. I can print them out and put them in my "The many faces of Guy Christopher Uda" section of the family photo album. Thanks for sharing. Hope you both enjoy your weekend together. Love always, Auntie

Bumble Bee T said...

A cow...just think of the many lunches that would follow. Could be tasty! Kind of mega-messy though.

Blake said...

You sound like such an amazing teacher! The kids look like they are learning and having fun. The question is: why don't more schools dissect fish?! My school could not afford fish, so we dissected worms. They were so small, it was very hard to do. Your students seem quite enlightened, and will grow up understanding the joy of knowledge.

I am going into a school this spring to teach about making seed balls. It's a fun science activity that touches on plants, soil, conservation, and agriculture. It can be done with easily obtained materials. Your students might like that activity, too! There are many resources online to learn how. The trick is to make them small enough and not use too many seeds.

Keep up the good work! Such happy students. :)

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