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Gardnerville Elementary School students use real hearts and lungs in study of the body

by Joyce Hollister, staff writer

There’s nothing like working with the real thing.

Students in the 3rd and 5th grades at Gardnerville Elementary School who are studying the circulatory system were able to see and touch real hearts and lungs – of sheep, that is.

According to 3rd-grade teacher Jan Fischer, who organized the project, her students and their 5th grade counterparts saw for themselves the four chambers of the heart and the valves between the chambers.

“We talked about the esophagus and trachea and how you choke if the food goes down the trachea,” she said. “We could see the epiglottis that closes off the esophagus.”

The students pumped up the lungs with a bicycle pump.

“They were really impressed by that,” she said.

The students could see the bronchial tubes going down into the lungs and see how spongy lungs are.

Ten sets of sheeps’ hearts and lungs were donated by Bob Butler, who works with the University of Nevada, Reno experimental farm where animals are raised. Butler used to own Butler Meats in Carson City and teaches butchering at the UNR farm.

The 5th grade students in the project are taught by Kim Haubursin.

The students were divided into small groups of both 3rd and 5th grades as part of the school’s cross-age tutoring program.

Parent volunteers and the school counselor helped guide students as they studied the hearts and lungs.

Fischer said the students were interested and enthusiastic about the activity.

“It was awesome learning,” she said.