Penn Manor High School teacher Diane Glock-Cornman believes that “hands-on experiences reinforce student learning.”
That’s why she applied for a PMEF Venture Grant to provide new equipment so her veterinary science students could learn veterinary surgical procedures through hands-on practice.
“Getting actual tools in their hands raises the level of learning,” said Glock-Cornman, a member of the agricultural education faculty. “One can’t truly appreciate how to use surgical needles, properly conduct dissection labs and understand the safety behind using these tools without physically handling them.”
Materials purchased through the $2,915 grant are being used for a variety of labs, including fetal pig dissection, heart dissection, ruminant anatomy dissection and surgical suture practicums. Prior to receiving the new equipment, students studied photocopied images of instruments to learn to identify the equipment and watched videos of dissection to learn procedures.
“When we did get the opportunity to do an actual dissection, four or five students all worked on one fetal pig, sharing equipment,” students said. “The old tools were dull, and it often felt like we were sawing away, not performing a precise procedure.”
Using the materials purchased with the Venture Grant, students can now work in teams of two, with an advanced student serving as their advisor. After watching a dissection online, they follow detailed instructions on where to make each cut.
Practicing on dead animals allows students to make mistakes without hurting a live animal. In addition to fetal pigs, they also have dissected deer hearts supplied by local hunters and practiced suturing raw chickens and bananas.
The grant also paid for a centrifuge, used to separate blood and other fluids during dissections, stethoscopes, examination equipment, grooming supplies and other materials the ag department would not have been able to purchase with limited school district funds.
On the last day of class, students brought live animals, ranging from rats and rabbits to dogs, to class and checked their blood pressure and heart rates and practiced grooming techniques.
Most of the students said they plan to pursue a college major in animal science or biology, with a goal of attending veterinary school. Their experience in the Penn Manor veterinary science class played a large role in that decision.
PMEF is excited to be able to fund grant requests like these that enhance student learning and prepare graduates for future success.