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AUTOPSY OF A DILL PICKLE



by Katharine M. Noonan
Adapted from Doug Bunch's "Dissect a Pickle"

TYPE OF ACTIVITY

Hands-on Lab Group Learning

TARGET AUDIENCE

PHYSIOLOGY BIOLOGY

BACKGROUND

Notes for teacher: This activity serves as an introduction to dissection, as suggested by Doug Bunch. It also reinforces concepts of anatomical directions, planes, and body cavities. Some imagination must be exercised.

Background required of students: Students should have read about anatomical planes, directions, regions, and body cavities. They should have illustrations at hand from text or coloring book sheets. They should know what pH means and have some experience with a microscope (one microscope could be set up with a tissue sample by the teacher as a demonstration). If their text has a vignette or section on autopsies, it could be assigned.

Preparation time needed: 10 minutes to locate pictures of dissecting tools and complete student hand-out. 10 minutes or so (depending) to locate and set out dissecting tools and pickle jars.

Class time needed: 30 minutes

Materials needed: 1 large dill pickle for each pair of students, toothpicks, dissecting equipment, pH paper and chart, microscope, slides, and coverslips.

PROCEDURE

Build up interest in autopsies for a day or two. Don't tell them what they will autopsy. On the day of the activity, have dissecting trays laid out with tools on them and covered with a white sheet. Place a sheet over the pickle jars, too. Any props or drama you can think of will add to the effect.

Pass out student worksheets (below).

Caution the students about use of sharp tools and proper behavior in the lab (very important, as this is pretty silly). Display each tool and describe its use in dissection. Students take notes and do matching on hand-out.

Hand out the trays and pickles. Partners works well. Instruct the students to make arms and legs and faces on their pickle using toothpicks. Now they may begin the autopsy. Stress the importance of making drawings and labeling them. Mingle among the students and ask questions about orientations, landmarks, incisions. Pickles do not really have cavities, ribcages, sternums, etc., so you may have to help some students with this leap of imagination. To open the "abdominopelvic region" with hinged doors, you need to cut all the way to the base of the pickle and rather deep.

Set out pH paper and demonstrate its use, if necessary.

Evaluation: Correct student worksheets for accuracy of labeling, and reasonable use of evidence in reaching conclusion.


STUDENT WORKSHEET

AUTOPSY OF A DILL PICKLE

Performed by Dr.___________ ,Coroner, on this day of _____________, 199__

TOOLS: (MATCH)
1. SCALPEL
2. FORCEPS
3. WAX DISSECTING PAN
4. DISSECTING PINS
5. SCISSORS (Pictures of dissecting equipment
6. TEASING NEEDLES labeled A. - H.)
7. BLUNT PROBE
8. DROPPER

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STAGE ONE: The exterior of the body is examined for abnormalities such as wounds or scars from injuries or surgeries. Draw both dorsal and ventral (posterior and anterior) views of your pickle, indicating your findings. Label the views.

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STAGE TWO: The ventral body cavity (A) is opened by a deep Y-shaped incision (B). The arms of the Y start at the anterior surface of shoulders (C) and join at the inferior point of the breastbone (sternum) (D) to form a single cut that extends to the pubic area (E).
Draw the pickle and the line of incision. Label A - E.

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After the ribcage is sawn through, the abdominopelvic region (F) can be opened like hinged doors (G) to expose the internal organs (H). The contents of the thoracic cavity (I) will also be visible. The second stage of the autopsy includes careful examination of many or all of the internal organs. If the brain is to be examined, a portion of the skull must be removed. The face, arms, and legs are usually not dissected unless there is a specific reason for doing so.
Draw the pickle at this stage of the autopsy. Label the F - I. Indicate superficial and deep layers.
Make enlarged drawings of at least 2 organs.

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STAGE THREE: After the organs are returned to their respective body cavities, and the body is sewn up, the third phase of the autopsy begins. It is a microscopic examination of tissues collected during the first two stages. Tests to analyze the chemical content of body fluids or to determine the presence of infectious organisms may also be performed.
Examine a thin slice of pickle tissue under the microscope (be sure to use a coverslip!). Draw the microscopic structure of the tissue sample.

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Collect a sample of body fluid using the dropper.
Test the pH of body fluid using pH test paper: pH =
Is the body fluid acid, basic, or neutral?

Normal pH of human body tissues is 7.35 - 7.45.

CONCLUSION

What is your finding about cause of death of this patient? Support your opinion with specific details from the autopsy.