Kidneys and cameras

Do you remember doing dissections at school? I remember them well, but what sticks out is the smell, and the gory excitement, rather than much learning. At ALF we’ve done two dissections in the last two weeks–hearts last week, and lungs this week–and students enjoyed them, and started to get more confident in working with dissections instruments.  When it was time to learn about the kidney, I decided it was time for girls to become even more independent with their dissection skills, and do something a little more academically challenging.

First, everyone had to bring in their camera–each member of the 10th standard class now owns a camera, gifted to them by the Kanakia Art Foundation after their photography day.  Everyone had an instruction sheet to work from as independently as possible, and their first tasks were to locate the ureter, renal artery and renal vein, and then to slice the kidney in half.

A student takes a transverse section of a kidney
A student takes a transverse section of a kidney

Then, girls had to work in pairs to identify structures in the kidney.

Naaz and Nidhi identify and label the internal structures.
Naaz and Nidhi identify and label the internal structures.

Each student had to photograph the kidney with the labels for later assessment by me.

Nikita photographing her work (there really is a kidney there, it's just obscured by her flash!)
Nikita photographing her work (there really is a kidney there, it’s just obscured by her flash!)

Next students had to trace and explain the flow of blood through the kidney, and the flow of filtrate… and they had to record this using their cameras so that I could check their understanding after the class.

First, girls spent an amusing few minutes getting over technical hitches.  Then, the real work began… what on earth was happening inside the kidney, and how could they explain it?  It was fun to hear the buzz of classroom noise with girls working to make sure they really understood, arguing with each other, working things out.

Vinisha and Allysin work on their explanation together
Vinisha and Allysin work on their explanation together

After class I was able to go through each video and assess each student’s understanding, so the whole process really did improve teaching and learning of the kidney.  If you’d like a quick refresher on kidney function, check out Mitali and Nashra’s video below!

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