…I also learned things I never really understood after 30 years in nursing because the models allow you to visualize in 3-D and make more physiologic correlations. Thanks Zahourek.

Joleen Rinaldo, Secondary Med Prep Instructor, Northeastern Junior College, Sterling, CO

Jon Zahourek Teaches Anatomy to Rick’s Center Middle School Students During “Passion Week”

Posted by: ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System | Posted on: May 2nd, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Jon Zahourek

I spent two intense days teaching this week working with students from fifth through eighth grade. Our workshop project was a comparison between the anatomy of the shoulder, arm, and hand of humans and their equivalents in the horse.

One key point of this experience is that I didn’t change one thing from how I would teach adults. The verbiage, the discussion, the complexity of how bones, muscles and their tendons all come together in form and function—I didn’t water down anything.

And the students soaked it up—they embraced these fundamental concepts.

Our Denver workshop center is just west of the University of Denver, home to the Ricks Center, a unique school for gifted children that is a fully integrated part of their campus. The Ricks Center’s reputation is sterling and I was eager to explore the potential for a sustained relationship with this school.

The Ricks Center schedule includes an interim session each Spring called “Passion Week,” where students can enroll in short, special classes. Planning for this course started late last year and evolved into a two-day anatomy class for twelve students.

I have to say that the burst of energy from these students took me by surprise, though their ability to grasp these concepts did not. They were excited to see the different scale and detail between horses and humans and in two days, we covered a lot of ground on this subject.

I enjoyed how the students wanted to look closely at my demonstration model as we moved through each new phase, building muscles in clay on scale models. The students came up individually or in small groups—pointing, studying, touching—and then returned to their own models and their own work. They questioned each other, shared information, and buzzed about their progress as ideas took shape.

We worked together at a level that is daunting for many adults. But I knew Ricks Center students would be super-ricks school 4learners, absorbing new information even more eagerly than adults—and I wasn’t disappointed. They practically gobbled us up in their enthusiasm.

The idea, as always, was for students to discover and learn more about how their own anatomy functions. Our body is the one thing that we truly “own” and learning about how it functions inevitably leads to improved self-awareness and self-esteem on all levels.

The reaction from the Ricks Center students was very exciting to me. It represents the first step in reaching a goal I’ve held for over thirty years — implementing a program focused just on middle school kids.


Ricks Group Crop

I loved the comments they wrote. Here are a few:

“It was so much fun I wish we could be here for the entire week: I want to be a doctor so this really helps.”

“The favorite thing was I learned that all animals have a serial anatomy that we all follow.”

“My favorite thing I learned was that the muscles come in all different shapes and textures—and that they are bundles of smaller cells.”

“When I swim I will know more about what muscles I’m using.”

“I enjoyed learning anatomy through the creative process—I knew nothing about it before this.”

Thanks to Ricks Center for the opportunity to work with these wonderful, energetic students. These young people expect a high level of engagement and they deserve it, too.

And my hat is off to their teachers, who work with these knowledge-hungry students every day.

Here’ s a gallery of more photos from the session:

All images copyright © 2013 Zahourek Systems Inc.

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