'Oh, gross': Students find fun in summer science class

July 9, 2011 at 2:09 a.m.
Updated July 10, 2011 at 2:10 a.m.

Stephen Hernandez, left, reacts, as  Landon Simpson, both 11, slices open the body of a frog during    VISD's summer camp "Grossology, CSI and You."

Stephen Hernandez, left, reacts, as Landon Simpson, both 11, slices open the body of a frog during VISD's summer camp "Grossology, CSI and You."

Three 11-year-old boys hovered over a disassembled sheep's eye, wearing blue gloves and poking at its lens and pupil.

"It looks like a gooey, gooey, gooey (fried) egg," Trystan Stanford said, picking up the slimy substance.

Soon, Trystan's mom and teacher, Michelle Stanford, would approach their lab table and provide a more scientific explanation of what the middle-schoolers were seeing.

Trystan and his friends, Landon Simpson and Stephen Hernandez, took turns proudly repeating what they'd just learned. A sheep's eye reflects blue from its choroid, while a human eye reflects red, like the red-eye in photos, they explained, all while poking and prodding.

It was the second day of the VISD summer camp, "Grossology, CSI and You," which entertained and educated about 25 kids in a Stroman Middle School classroom.

Next on that day's lineup was dissecting a frog. The students helped each other tie on oversized aprons, as they waited for their stiff specimen.

"It smells like chicken," one of the boys yelled.

"Does it have a buttocks?" "How do frogs (urinate)?" more questioned.

The curious little scientists dissected for their answers.

"Oh wow, that's like a little liver. This is so cool," said Faith Barton, 12, and one of the few girls in the class.

Her lab partner, 12-year-old Danielle Garcia did the cutting and referred to a print diagram to help the duo identify what they were exploring.

"You get to see the insides of creatures that you've never really seen before. It's a first-time experience," Faith said, her petite fingers deep in frog guts.

The girls said they hadn't been grossed out by their endeavors so far, which included making fake blood and fake snot.

While the frog innards and gooey eye were cool, most students said they were most looking forward to the rest of the week, which would include CSI-style DNA work.

This is the first year Stanford, who teaches anatomy and forensic science at West High School, has taught the summer class. The response has been so positive and fruitful, Stanford said she hopes to do it again next year, budget willing.

"Their minds are open to new things, and if we show them that science is fun ... they're more inquisitive when they get to high school," she said. "Hopefully we get some scientists or doctors from it."

Back across the lab, the girls, Faith and Danielle, were continuing to feed their curiosity and love for science. They decided to cut open the frog's stomach to see its last meal.

As they used tweezers to dig out what appeared to be cricket legs and bug parts packed inside the small stomach, they let out a satisfying response.

"Oh, gross," they said in unison.



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