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I wrote a Guest Post for teach.com about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Science) activities that give students a chance to be actively involved and to explore – which is, after all, what Science especially is all about.

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Body Systems:

My Summer in a Veterinarian’s Office

Puppies

“It’s time to get Tami ready for surgery,” I heard the doctor say.

My name is Tami, so this statement caught my attention. Especially since the doctor making the statement was a veterinarian.

It was the first day of my summer internship at the veterinary office. During the school year, I was a 5th grade teacher. I was spending the summer in a special program through School to Work which matched teachers to local businesses. The internship would provide opportunities for me to learn more about what skills students heading into this field would need and would also give me a chance to learn content for the Science unit I taught on Body Systems. In return, the business got my help five days a week for six weeks.

It was an incredible experience. I wore scrubs every day, which made me feel official. I walked dogs who were being boarded there; I fed animals; I cleaned a cage or two. I learned how to hold a dog’s leg just right to keep it comfortable and still when the dog needed a pedicure or a shot.

I helped clean and comfort animals that had been neglected and abused. I cried on the way home.

I spent hours exploring books and resources in the doctor’s office.

I created a variety of materials to take back to my classroom. I drew a model of the circulatory system with permanent markers on a white king-size flat sheet. It was big enough for the students to walk on. They would each be a blood cell, picking up oxygen (tennis balls) in the lungs and delivering it to the other parts of the body in exchange for carbon dioxide (racquetballs).

I sorted through a box of old x-rays, identifying which ones where old enough that the doctor no longer needed to keep them on file. Of those, I picked out some favorites to keep. Did you know that an overhead projector does a good job of showing an x-ray on a white board?

I had x-rays of broken bones, a dog’s backside scattered with buckshot, a fish hook in a cat’s stomach, and one with a cuddled group of tiny puppies, still in their mama’s tummy – the owner planned to sell the puppies and wanted to know how many there were.

And I assisted in many surgeries. Actually, mostly I lurked. It was fascinating to see the inner workings of those little bodies, so very much like ours.

The doctor even let me try to do the second row of stitches on a cat. That is so much harder than it looks! Poor kitty ended up with a not-so-straight scar, most likely. Thank goodness for fur!

 

But on that first day, standing in the hallway, I wasn’t so sure what I was ready for.

I soon discovered that I had nothing to worry about, as I was introduced to the cat who was going in for the surgery.

And whose name was Tami.

 

 

 

Engaging Students in Science
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