Tag Archives: dissecting specimens

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.

All About Biology Specimens

Marty asked yesterday where do I purchase the specimens and how far in advance should they be ordered.

Good questions that do need to be answered.

On my Apologia Biology page I have a link to where I have the students order their specimens.   It is much easier on me to have the students order their own specimens, keep them, and bring them in when they are needed.

I suggest ordering them from Apologia Ministries, only because they have all the specimens in one package and it is at a low cost.  You can find the Biology specimens here.

With the above package you get:   5″ frog, 6″ crayfish, 9-12″ perch, and 9-12″ Earthworm

Some of my students had small specimens and some had very large specimens.  You never know what you are going to get.  We have always had at least one really great specimen.

Some students order their specimens from other places like:
Home Science Tools They sell the whole kit.  Specimens, tray, and tools.  Our co-op has the trays and tools, so we didn’t need to order these.  If you want just the specimens, they sell those individually.
RockSolid This store offers free shipping for any orders over $90.00.   I didn’t know they had specimens and they’re a local store.  LOL
Homeschool Gear I don’t know anything about this place.

I have the students order the specimens at the beginning of the year.  They are preserved, so they will keep until needed.  🙂  If you wait until the last minute, you run the risk of not getting them on time.  Remember, every other homeschooling student will be ordering their specimens at the same time.  Best to order early.  One mother waited and then paid the extra over-night shipping to get them on time.  She planned on this, because she didn’t want the specimens in her home. 😀

For my class I have added the fetal pig as an extra dissecting experiment.  This is done at the end of the year.  It is not in the Apologia Biology book at all.  All the students look forward to dissecting the pig.  It is a good experience for them.

These are ordered by the students from Bio Corporation.  You can also order the frog, crayfish, worm, and perch from here.   Again, some students may have ordered it from somewhere else.

For the dissecting tool replacements, I order from Home Science Tools.  For these I collect a small fee from each students (this year is was $2.15), to replace blades and some scissors.  This year I order only one new blade for each student.  I have learned that we will need a new blade for every dissecting specimen.  Dull blades cause nothing but frustration.

I hope I have answered the questions to your satisfaction.  If not, please ask more.  Love answering questions!