High School Anatomy & Physiology Projects

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Anatomy and physiology classes teach about the structures and processes of life, which can be made much more vivid through the use of models, multimedia materials and exercises. Hands-on projects that allow students to engage with the subject matter that they're learning make both the understanding and retention of the material easier and more interesting.

1 Disease Diary

Every few weeks, the class is assigned a new category of disease--such as dermatological, neurological, digestive--according to the specific section of human anatomy that is being taught at the time. Each student is assigned a particular disease within the given category, which he must then study and present to the class. The presentation should include how the disease is acquired, its processes, its effects and how it is treated. Students should be encouraged to use various media, such as pictures, charts, videos or even Powerpoint presentations. This project allows the students to learn about the body's systems by educating themselves about ways in which they can be corrupted.

2 Fetal Pig Dissection

Fetal pig dissections allow students a hands-on approach to anatomy. Dissecting the pig allows students to learn about the different organs, muscles and bloods vessels of the pig, as well as the processes that animate these organs. Comparisons and contrasts can be drawn between human anatomy and porcine anatomy, as well as between the anatomy of an unborn animal and that of one who has reached maturity.

3 Fruit Flies

Fruit flies, which breed prolifically, provide an excellent way to study reproduction and genetics. A number of different projects can be performed with them, including experiments involving temperature and breeding, the result of x-rays on reproduction and the inheritance of various characteristics between different generations of flies.

4 Hospital Field Trip

A trip to a local hospital allows students to learn about the ways in which various ailments, injuries and other conditions are treated. This visit can include a tour of the hospital and an audience with certain patients and staff. Many doctors and nurses are willing to answer questions about the diseases they treat and about their jobs as medical professionals. Much like the disease diary, this project helps students better understand regular human physiology by acquainting them with interruptions to the body's normal functions.

5 Sleep Study

One of the advantages of studying physiology in high school is that students can act as their own test subjects for certain experiments. One such project is a sleep study, in which students observe the effect that differing amounts of sleep have on their ability to function. Best conducted during a week in which students do not have major tests and projects, this study involves separating the students into groups and having each group get a different amount of sleep for several nights; for example, a control group would sleep for eight hours, another group six and another group four. Students keep a diary of their reactions over the next few days, noting changes in their emotions, physical functioning and cognitive processes. Each group's findings can then be presented to the class as fodder for a discussion on the role that sleep plays in the body's performance.

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.