Temple Grandin Supports Hands-On Approach of the Anatomy in Clay Learning System, Urges More Teaching of “Practical
Temple Grandin, the Colorado State University professor of animal science and one of the most accomplished adults with autism in the world today, has endorsed the ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System and its hands-on approach to learning anatomy.
“I think this would be a great thing-high school science classes, this would be a really great teaching aid,” said Dr. Grandin in a recent interview. “We gotta do things to get kids interested–interested in science–and there are certain kinds of kids where doing hands-on activities help to get them interested… You gotta touch to really see.”
Anatomy in Clay® approached Grandin to gain her insight and perspective because of her success in developing methods of learning for individuals with autism. Grandin first encountered ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. Her full comments can be found by clicking here.
“Some people learn better with words and some people learn with visual things and with hands-on things,” said Grandin, who urged schools to do more to reach students who come with a variety of learning styles. “The thing about doing all kinds of hands-on activities is that they teach practical problem solving. You know, you just do the verbal way and it gets too abstract. People like me need to do hands-on things.”
Temple Grandin’s life has been featured on national and international television news shows and she has written many books about autism. Her latest, The Autistic Brain:
Thinking Across the Spectrum, will be released in May. Grandin is a philosophical leader of both the animal welfare and autism advocacy movements.
The Anatomy in Clay® system uses scaled-down models of humans and animals on which participants build body structures with clay. The company also produces scaled-down models for learning horse anatomy (the EQUIKEN®) and dog anatomy (the CANIKEN®). Students form muscles, nerves, blood vessels, organs and other internal anatomy, isolated or integrated into a whole system. The system allows students to construct anatomical structures using specially formulated and color-coded clay.
“We appreciate Temple Grandin’s thoughtful comments and thank her for taking the time to become interested in our systems,” said Anatomy in Clay® founder Jon Zahourek.
“Our systems remove abstraction from the process of learning anatomy–and that’s precisely what she recognized,” said Zahourek.
Art-inspired tool helps Regis anatomy students
July 8, 2012
DENVER (AP) — The class began playfully enough, with instructor Jennifer Hellier kneading a ball of light brown clay and rolling it between the palms of her hands.
But then, as she and four college students manipulated the medium with their fingers and a set of tools, the process morphed into a highly technical lesson on the muscles of the human body.
Call it art meeting anatomy.
At the start of a monthlong program at Regis University for select college students, Hellier stimulates their interest in the health professions in a variety of ways. But one of her most effective tools, she says, is a system developed by a Colorado company that transforms the complex systems of the body into a hands-on exercise.
“Who doesn’t enjoy being 20 years old and playing with clay?” said Hellier, also a teacher and researcher at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus. “Every single student says this is their favorite part of the entire course.”
The system, called Anatomy in Clay, has its roots in the art world, where in the late 1970s Jon Zahourek taught aspiring students how to draw the human form. Frustrated with trying to teach those skills in two dimensions, he developed models on which students could replicate surface anatomy in clay.
But those models quickly revealed their value as a means to learn anatomy. Zahourek and his wife, Renee Whitman, launched a business that advanced a variety of practical uses for the approach through workshops.
Today, the models can be found in thousands of classrooms across the country, from elementary to medical school — though their primary market is high schools and community colleges.
“As he taught himself anatomy, light bulbs went off in his head,” said Val Zahourek, the founder’s niece and chief executive of the Loveland-based company. “Something just clicked, and he had to share this with the world.”
The models come in various stages of complexity and encompass human and animal anatomy. Although the materials were born from an artist’s perspective, they require no particular artistic talent to manipulate effectively.
Students introduced to the process approach it with different aptitudes and attitudes about the appearance of their finished product. But no matter how refined their creation, they’re still exposed to the underlying anatomical concepts.
“One of our mottos is, ‘Ugly muscles still work,’” said David Gurule, a 24-year-old Adams State College graduate who starts pharmacy school in the fall.
The process of molding color-coded clay into muscles and, eventually, other body systems reinforces — or lays the foundation for — the often-daunting study of anatomy. And in many cases, it presents the material in a way that better suits a student’s learning style.
“A lot of students are visual and kinesthetic, and they don’t realize how to use it as a learning tool,” said Hellier, the program coordinator of CREATE Health Scholars, which helps undergraduates from rural and underserved areas of Colorado investigate health careers. “By actually using your own hands, you get to build all the different parts of the body.”
The models average about $450 each but can be divided bilaterally so that each one creates two lab stations. Instructional materials range from $100 to $350, with clay and other accessories running $12 or less.
The company also helps schools identify sources of potential grant money.
Hellier has seen an added benefit when her students begin to understand not only the muscles of the human body but how to exercise them.
“So some of our weightlifting guys are like, ‘So when I’m doing a bench press, I’m really working not just my pectoralis major and minor …,’” she said. “They start getting those connections.”
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com
July 6, 2012
VIDEO: Art-inspired tool helps students mold anatomy lessons in clay
June 29, 2012
Anatomy in Clay™ Learning Systems to Sponsor 2013 NAMSP Administrator Awards!
Through an associate partnership with the National Association for Middle School Principals (NAMSP) ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System is collaborating on a number of activities with the organization. Sponsorship of National Instructional Leadership Awards, in-kind anatomy equipment loans, and stipend monies for winning administrators attending the annual meeting are some of the contributions that ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System is making to NAMSP.
“The values of NAMSP are in line with our core values – to provide innovative and hands-on methods to help students succeed in school – that it was a natural fit for a collaborative relationship,” says Val Zahourek, CEO Zahourek Systems, Inc.
March 4, 2011
LaGuardia Community College Replaces Cat Cadavers With Clay Models in its Biology Classes
For many college students who take anatomy and physiology there is the much anticipated cat dissection. But this spring, LaGuardia Community College students taking that course will walk into a very different science lab. Gone will be the cat cadaver, the putrid smell of formaldehyde and the scalpel. Instead, students will be building clay models.
LaGuardia is the first CUNY campus, and one of the first community colleges in the nation, where its students will be learning the muscles of the human body not by dissecting cat specimens but by applying clay muscles to a skeletal mannequin.
“Studying human muscles is one of the hardest and most difficult areas,” said Professor Carol Haspel, “so we are always trying to find ways, mechanisms and pedagogical techniques that assist our students in learning the basics that they need to know. The clay models are a key factor in helping them.”
Professor Haspel is confident the clay mannequin is an effective learning tool after a successful pilot program the department conducted over two semesters beginning in 2007. Involved in the experiment were 10 classes where the students were divided into five conventional and five mannequin groups.
The professor pointed to test results that indicated that the clay-modeling group was significantly better at identifying human muscles on human models than the cat-dissection group. They were also as good at identifying muscles on their self-made clay mannequins as the cat-dissection group was at identifying cat muscles on its specimens. “A greater number of students in the clay-modeling group received grades of A or B and fewer grades of C, D and F,” she added.
This spring, the over 600 students in 23 sections of anatomy and physiology will work on mannequins during five lab sessions. Divided into groups of three and four, the students will stretch clay into thin muscle-like bands between origins and insertions on the 28-inch human skeletal mannequins.
“By using the models, the students are learning to build up the human musculature,” said Professor Howard Motoike. “By building from the inside to the outside, they see the layering of the musculature as it builds up in the body. In subsequent labs they will build blood vessels and learn how they are positioned with regard to the muscle and gain a more three-dimensional perspective.”
The idea of replacing the cat cadavers with the clay mannequins was planted several years ago when a student, who was a practicing Buddhist, objected to dissecting a cat. She researched the web and found Zahourek Systems, a company in Colorado that manufactured mannequins, and purchased the kit and materials.
While the class worked on the cat dissections the student worked on the mannequin, did all the assignments and, when it came to the practical exam, was tested on the model as well as the human models that the class worked on. “She did extremely well,” said Dr. Haspel, “but when I saw the product I was in shock at how fabulous it was and how much she had learned.”
With that, Dr. Haspel approached the company, which agreed to lend all the materials to run the pilot.
To purchase the 159 skeletal mannequins and kits, the department received an $110,000 New York State Perkins grant.
“The initial investment was costly but at the end of the semester the clay is removed, the mannequins are scrubbed and ready for the next crop of students,” said Dr. Haspel. “We have a sustainable, reusable resource, an effective pedagogical technique and no animals are killed.”
October 7, 2010
ATA teacher awarded Anatomy in Clay grant
Dr. Teresa Nirenstein, a second year teacher at the Academy for Technology and Academics, was awarded a grant for the Anatomy in Clay system, valued at $4,000, from the South Carolina Department of Education.
Anatomy in Clay ® Testing
Dr. Grisseel Cruz-Espaillat,M.D.,M.P.H., Christopher Stabile, Ed.D., Carlos Reyes and Keiser University
The study of anatomy at the college level is typically carried out through vivisection or dissection. The Anatomy in Clay ® learning system seeks to provide an alternative to this costly practice by allowing students to engage the muscular and skeletal systems of the human body through the use of clay modeling. The present study seeks to examine the Anatomy in Clay ® technique is a valuable addition to instruction in the field of anatomy and a potential alternative to the practices of dissection.