Nothing goes to waste. How extra bits from harvest help in school.

As I’ve mentioned before, we home school our kids. Darling Wifey takes about 110% of this role as I’m effectively useless because of my schedule. One thing she’s elected to do since the beginning is to be part of a co-op so that our kids “are socialized” which is the big thing people worry about with home schooling. That’s said a bit tongue in cheek, as the socializing thing is over blown. The real reason we attend a co-op is so the load of teaching is shared across multiple people and the kids have opportunities to do things in school that we wouldn’t be able to do in our own home school. Things like projects and science experiments. However with multiple people taking a role and only having to focus on one subject we are able to expand the learning opportunities.

A pig heart and lungs, being kept for class
A pic from our hog killing class. Here we’ve saved the lungs and the heart.

This year we were able to be part of helping the biology class study the human body. For anyone who’s ever watched Mythbusters, you know that a pig is a very good human analog and that pig organs are remarkably similar to human organs. They’ve even used pig parts as transplants for human parts. Pig heart valves, anyone?

Anyway, when we were going to be killing pigs last winter, SWMBO said she wanted a heart and lungs set from the pigs. I really didn’t know what she was going to do with it. Some sort of witches stew maybe? Eye of newt… Heart of pig… Unicorn tears…. Stir to combine. You never know around here. But like a good Igor I procured the pig parts as instructed and she froze them on a pan in our upright freezer. No special wraps or prep, just frozen right out of the pig.

Using pig lungs to demonstrate how human lungs work
Fluvanna demonstrating the lungs, and how they work.

About 2 months later, the parts were thawed and taken to co-op where one of the teachers used them in a display for the kids. Apparently you can buy hearts and lungs for schools, but they are extremely expensive and are stored in formaldehyde making the whole affair a stinky mess.

Using pig lungs to demonstrate how human lungs work
The lungs, showing the neat stand that was made, ready to be fully inflated.At this point the lungs were partially inflated.
Using pig lungs to demonstrate how human lungs work
The lungs inflated

I still remember dissecting a frog in school. Being able to put your hands on real parts is the difference between knowing about something and knowing something.

Using pig lungs to demonstrate how human lungs work
How the lungs were inflated. Note the foot pump, pumping to the base of the stand.

This wasn’t just a random thing to show, this was part of an overall lesson plan for the year.

Using pig lungs to demonstrate how human lungs work
The reason you do things like this.

The kids were able to touch and see up close what organs look like and to discuss how they really work. You never know where learning opportunities will come from. Since we will kill one pig a year for ourselves, I’m fairly certain this will be a repeat opportunity for the kids at co-op.

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