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Engaging hands-on experiences are a hallmark of City Academy’s STEAM program, and our faculty are finding creative ways to make that possible during virtual learning. This week in 4th grade science, our scholars dissected squids as part of the biology curriculum. Each student was given their own specimen to dissect, following along with 3rd and 4th grade science teacher Ann Luciani on Zoom.

Before the dissection, students were asked to draw a squid from memory. This helped them identify questions they had about the structure and form of the animal, which they were then able to answer during the dissection. On Monday, students completed an external examination of squids, and on Tuesday they completed the internal examination.

They were able to find and identify different parts of the squid, and use the hands-on experience to practice and reinforce the challenging vocabulary they are learning during their classwork, such as that squids are eukaryotic organisms, meaning that their cells contain a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles, and heterotrophs, meaning organisms that get their energy from eating other organisms. The lesson also linked to previous lessons about behavioral and physical characteristics that help animals survive, like squid ink. Students even had the opportunity to attempt to write with the squid ink!

A dissection lesson during virtual learning required quite a bit of coordination. Extra supplies and safety equipment had to be purchased and sent home, and a parent meeting was held over Zoom to ensure that parents were able to support their students with the lesson and safety procedures. For on-site students, classroom monitors and administrators on campus assisted during the dissection for extra support and to monitor for safety. For Ms. Luciani, the extra effort was worth it! Beyond the science lesson, the experience of trying something new was important for her classroom.

“I want to give them the experience of doing something that is challenging academically and potentially emotionally in a safe and supportive setting. There is an “ick factor” that some students need to work through or that can make them uncomfortable. Even the at first reluctant students persevered and did a great job!” 

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