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Preparing for the heart dissection practical

How to prepare for a heart dissection at home including health and safety information. This practical is part of a free online course on Heart Health.

In the next few steps you’ll have the opportunity to do a heart dissection at home. This is an optional exercise, so if you aren’t able to do the practical, or would rather not that’s fine. However, you should watch the videos of the practical (Part 1: Investigating the external structure of the heart, Part 2: Investigating the internal structure of the heart).

The benefits of doing the practical experiments

There is more to understanding a topic than just remembering facts. To really understand a topic we first learn the theory then we learn how to apply the theory through practical work.

Do I have to do the practical?

All of the practicals in this course are optional. Watching the following videos will provide enough information for you to take part in the discussions after the practical, and complete the quiz at the end of the week.

Getting started

The aim of the first home practical is to investigate the structure of the heart. We will do this by taking a lamb’s heart (which you can buy at the butcher’s or many supermarkets) and dissecting it in stages to expose the anatomy.

The health and safety information is in the next step.

You will need the following items on trays or large plates ready to use:

  • Instruction sheet or mobile device protected appropriately by placing it in a bag
  • Worksheet
  • Pen / pencil to write with
  • Apron
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Tray, plate or suitable working surface (chopping board used only for raw meat)
  • Animal heart, for example from a lamb or a chicken. These can be purchased from some supermarkets or butchers. Store it as directed on the packaging until you are ready to carry out the practical (usually in a refrigerator for a few days, or freeze if for longer and then defrost before use)
  • Blunt instrument to probe the heart (eg an old ball point pen for lamb heart, or a paper clip for chicken heart)
  • Knife
  • Ruler
  • Access to hot soapy water
  • Paper towels
  • Suitable disinfectant
  • Waste bag

Download a printable version of the Week 1 home practical guide: Investigating the structure of the heart.

You might like to share photos or even videos of your home lab or your heart dissection, in which case you’ll also need a camera or other suitable device. If you’re taking the photos or video yourself, remember to wash your hands well after touching the heart using hot soapy water. You might find it easier to ask a friend or family member to take photos or video for you. You can share your images and films on the Heart Health Padlet wall. Please note this Padlet wall includes images and observations from a previous run of this course, which can be added to.

How to use Padlet

Find out how to use Padlet by reading the guide in the FutureLearn FAQ.

This article is from the free online

Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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