Biology Questions Answered…I hope.

I received a few questions from readers about the specimens and tools that I use in the Biology class.  I will attempt to answer them here. 🙂

Marty and Judy asked, “What exactly was wrong w/ the specimens?”

I placed an order with a favorite homeschool science supply company.  This is what I got.  Notice the size of the box compared to the size of the frog.  Now think about five frogs, five owl pellets, five worms (smashed at the bottom), box of dissecting pins, and a box of scalpel replacement blades, in the same box.   Two orders came like this.

I emailed the company and they graciously refunded my shipping cost and replaced an owl pellet instruction sheet, that had been wadded up and stuffed in the box.  I am happy with the company, but I will not order specimens from them again.

I will be ordering my specimens from Carolina Biologicals .  They offer specimens in individual bags or in buckets. They cost a little more, but worth it. Carolina Biologicals have a great customer service and quick shipping.  I think any biological company would be a better place to order from, than the “kits” you can get at homeschool stores.  That is my opinion.

Korey said, “Bio Corporation sends the larger specimens in buckets and the smaller specimens in jars so they maintain their shapes nicely.”    Sweet!!  I’m checking them out.

I hope to have enough students to get specimens in buckets next year.  Take a look at the difference.

This was in a bag.  It is small, color is off, and missing one claw.

This one is from a bucket.  It is larger, color is really nice, and it is in great shape.

Judy also asked, “what do you think is a good amount of time to do a dissection?

That depends.  The worm we were able to dissect in the 1.5 hours that we have available.  The rest of the specimens, I’d like to have had  2 to 2.5 hours.  We saved a lot of time this year, by taking pictures for the students to label instead of sketches.  I like sketches, so I may go back to sketches next year.

Judy had another great question, “I notice the use of styrofoam plates to hold the specimens – do you find this easier/better than the ‘dissecting trays’?”

I do not like the Styrofoam plates we used for the frog.  They were thin and slippery.  I prefer the meat trays you get in the meat department at the grocery store.  The only reason I like them better than the dissecting tray, is because of the cleaning.  If we are running late, I have to clean the trays. Also I have to clean them in the bathroom sink at co-op, then clean the sink.  It was too much trouble.  Next year I will be ordering the disposable trays or buy them from meat department and use two at a time.

No one asked this questions, so I am going to ask it?

Applie, how do you dispose of the specimens when you are done?  Aren’t they harmful to the environment? Wow!  That is a great questions, Applie.  The specimens are not classifiable as federal hazardous wastes and do not represent a biohazard. After they have been displayed to the co-op members about to have lunch, the specimens go right into the dumpster. 🙂

Hey Applie!  One more question.  Do you reuse your scalpels or replace them with a new blade after each specimen? Wow Applie, that’s another great question!  So glad you asked that. Well,  after breaking four “used” blades on the perch last year, I have decided we should use new blades for each specimen.

Gee Applie, isn’t that expensive? It only costs $2.00 for a package of ten. Get over being a tight-wad and get the blades.  You and your students will be so happy!

Any more questions?  I need something to post about so please ask questions.  They don’t have to be about Biology or guts.

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22 responses to “Biology Questions Answered…I hope.

  1. Thanks for explaining. =)

    Hmmm… ANY question?
    Like, How old are you? 😆 I’ll be 39 next week. I don’t mind if ppl know my age, but some people do mind. I’m guessing you’re not one of those… 😉

  2. I have some questions….
    You have a son graduating next year. What are his plans after graduation?
    What is the longest you have been without sleep?
    What would you do if you won a million dollars?

  3. I have a question or two. Was it the 5 or 6 inch specimens that you ordered? My Crawfish were pretty good color and size. Worms were a bit stiff. Perch was ‘perfect’ although STINKY. And the brain was very well protected… Will let you know about the frog after Friday.
    So when is the frog cake? Will you share some of that? Can I hire you to make one for my class???
    Have a great day!

  4. I am a also teaching a biology class for homeschoolers so I love to read your posts. You have given me so many great ideas (Thank you!!) I also order my specimens from home training tools but I just recently found another company called Bio Corporation. They are cheaper and so far my specimens have come packaged wonderfully. Here is their website if you are intersested: http://www.biologyproducts.com/

  5. Here is my question: Applie, why don’t you trot over to Colorado real quick-like and take over teaching science to my kids? I am a science person, but do not excel at teaching it for some reason. We got completely stalled with chemistry when it was revealed I had to boil a purple cabbage for some of the experiments.

  6. Great! Thank you, Applie!
    Oh my! The link that Korey posted has cats! I dissected a cat in high school for my A&P class. I learned so much. I don’t think I could ever do it with my kids, because they are “sensitive”, but it would be great for an advanced science kid.

    • Yep, you can get just about anything at those Biological places. They know their stuff. When I was in college I prayed I wouldn’t have to dissect a cat. That is just so not nice. LOL I ended up dissecting a fetal pig. Mostly by myself because my two lab partners couldn’t handle it.

  7. Your link does too Applie! Oh the choices.

    • Yes they do have cats. I think they even sell hairless cats. I haven’t looked into it, since I am not interested in that part. I think I could dissect a hairless cat better than a hairy one. You know, like the ones that look like your pet? LOL

  8. I dissected a cat in nursing school and couple times since then. It is a little weird if you have little kitty at home yourself. This semester we ordered the banana spiders, scorpions, grasshoppers, walking stick bugs, and the pigeons for a co-op class I am teaching. Bio Corporation sends the larger specimens in buckets and the smaller specimens in jars so they maintain their shapes nicely.

    • Nice! I’ll have to check them out more. What are you going to do with the spiders, scorpions, grasshoppers, and walking sticks bugs? How many days to do have co-op. Spill your guts (not literally lol) and tell me all about it. 🙂

  9. Barbie Whitefield

    QUESTION:
    First know… I am am not being a tight-wad with my scaples, using stainless steel handles, ordering replaceable blades ;). However, I am considering going tight-wad on my forceps! So I found this four pack of “tweezers” at dollar tree. They look decent, but they are cheaply made… it’s dollar tree. They are fine point, a 4 pack.. found them in the wanna be tool isle. Anyway, they look exactly like forceps that come with various kits, a sqeeze pair, a fine point angle pair, fine point straight, and some sort of flat tip on the last one. Any reason these should be higher quality metal? I’ve spent lots of time finding other tools individually on amazon, figured out a KILLER plan for dissection boards (unless your idea of double stacking meat trays proves cheaper and killz my killer idea) and this is my only holdup. My other option for these forceps is a pack of 100 plastic ones (fine point), for 15 bucks on amazon. I have only 14 students, so I am thinking if these would work, I could get 4 or 5 packs and get off super cheap with my forceps….(as if 15 bucks wasn’t cheap enough?…I know….I’m awful). I want to send a picture, but I don’t know how. Will try to figure that out. Thoughts? Be honest…I can handle it. THANKS!

    • Hi Barbie! The dollar tree tweezers should work just fine, except for pulling out the gills. They are tough to pull out with cheap tweezers, but you can use your fingers. Go with the dollar tree one! 🙂

      You don’t need a lot of pins; around 10 per student. The worm takes the most pins.

      I always had my students pay for their own tools. 🙂

      What is your killer idea for the trays? I’d really like to know. 😀

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