Understanding the Body: Blair Students Study Anatomy & Physiology

When science teacher Caroline Chamberlain came to Blair Academy in 2018, she brought with her a fascination and passion for science. This year, she introduced a new course for students who share her love of the subject and who want to expand their knowledge of the human body. The course, anatomy and physiology, is a full-year science elective that currently has 25 students enrolled across two class blocks.

Anatomy and physiology explores the inner workings of the human body and focuses on a basic understanding of anatomical and medical terminology. This course is the perfect foundation for students wishing to explore a career in health or medical science after they graduate from Blair.

“I have always enjoyed learning how the body works, and I think kids these days are also of that mindset,” Ms. Chamberlain said when asked about her inspiration for the course. “It's also a great thing for them to have a basic understanding of medicine so they can better advocate for themselves in the future.”

So far, students have learned about medical terminology, tissue types, the skeletal system, the muscular system and nerves. They will continue with the nervous system (complete with a brain dissection!) and the remaining body systems, including digestive, endocrine, reproductive and cardiovascular. Ms. Chamberlain noted that for the next semester she will allow students to choose what they will learn next, and in what order, so it best makes sense for them.

To understand physiology, she knew it was important for the class to understand anatomy in tandem. Courses like these are typically seen in a college setting, but she recognized the importance of studying the subject in high school, as well.

When asked about her favorite part of the course, she described in detail the labs in which students regularly participate and their importance. These hands-on opportunities are her favorite way to teach, with students discovering concepts for themselves, rather than just reading about them in textbooks. Students are also learning critical thinking and scientific problem-solving skills as they work in the lab.

“We autopsied a pickle, built bone models of clay, and dissected a chicken wing and a cat this semester—which I can’t say was for everyone,” she said. “When kids are actually using their hands and you give them independence, they are far more engaged and will pick up material faster.”

At the end of the year, Ms. Chamberlain hopes students will take away a continued fascination with how the body works. 

“These kids are so gifted that any one of them would be a treasure to have in the medical field, and I hope they continue their studies down the road,” she said. “We focus a lot on case studies to form their self-advocacy skills, so they will know how to research health conditions for themselves or their loved ones. I’m optimistic that what they are learning will extend far past the classroom.”



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