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Top Tip: Miss Vivi’s essential guide to preparing brains for the classroom

ovine brain poached in the microwave how to prepare brains for the classroom

ovine brain poached in the microwave how to prepare brains for the classroom

I am getting questions about prepping brains for the classroom so here are my Top Tips.

There is not much point putting brains into the classroom unless they have been prepped. You just end up with a pink puddle of mush.
My preference is at least 24 hours in 50% alcohol from frozen. They will float so you need to turn them over periodically or fill a container to the brim and put the lid on them to keep them submerged.

Saturated salt solution works well, too, but I am too lazy to be bothered making it when I can just dilute a bit of metho.

Patricia Hugman developed this 1 hour method that she swears by and gave it to me to put on the website. Don’t be stingy with the salt. Really load them up.…/

I heard that you can microwave brains to firm them up. This one in the picture has been subjected to 1min 30sec in water in 10 sec blasts.  It was ONE brain in a container. If you are going to do more then you will have a bigger container, more water and more brain so you will have to fiddle with the timing a bit.

I do know people that freeze them on a tray and deliver them to the classroom that way so they defrost during the dissection. I haven’t tried it but I can see how it would work.

Good luck! Terrible things, brains.

post by miss vivi at dissection connection

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Compare the digestive systems of a monogastric and a ruminant animal

porcine stomach

” Investigate and compare the digestive systems of a monogastric and a ruminant animal, using real or virtual examples”

YES it is part of the new syllabus in QLD and it is listed as a mandatory practical – but they wrote it without consulting anyone in the industry.

Sheep stomachs are not only difficult to get, they are impossible to package.

They are difficult to get because they are hard to transport. Nobody wants a bucket full of sheep farts in their meat truck

Because of their diet and digestive processes, the stomach continues to inflate with gas long after it is removed from the animal. By the time it gets to me I can’t get it into a bag, let alone into the cryovac machine. We have found in the past that freezing doesn’t stop it – it just keeps getting bigger.

Pig stomachs are a different story. We often have a couple in the freezer. They look like Lady Gaga’s handbags.

porcine stomach

In the meantime have a look at this nice little slideshow online comparing the two.

post by miss vivi at dissection connection

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New year, new shoes!

silver glitter doc martens boots for miss vivi in 2019

New year, new shoes.  Silver glitter Doc Martens. That’s how we’re gonna roll in 2019, Vivsters!

silver glitter doc martens boots for miss vivi in 2019

I was pretty stoked to find these boots in a shoe shop in Canberra in December.  Last time I went to a Docs shop they were thrilled to be able to offer me a choice of black or blue *yawn*

My mum says I’m going to cry the first time I spill blood on them – and she might be right – but I promised Mr Vivi I would try and be more cheerful on the way to work in the mornings if I had them on my feet.  Miss Vivi is NOT  a morning person!

It’s the first day back at school and lots of you will have new shoes.  Show us what you’ve got, Vivsters!


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A WTF is that moment in the pluck bucket

Switch to virtual dissections, they said!
It’ll be fine, they said!
It’s all fun and games until someone loses a kidney. Even I had a WTF is that moment in the pluck bucket yesterday – after 20 years of looking at them.

galline pluck from dissection connection

This article about a surgeon that mistook a kidney for a tumour in a patient and removed it popped up in my Facebook feed today. You can read the full story here.  I don’t know how or where the surgeon was educated, but I do often hear from those in the classroom that virtual is the way of the future.  However – that isn’t what I hear from actual health care professionals. The support for dissection from the people you are relying on when you are sick don’t support virtual dissection as the only tool for learning gross anatomy.

We genuinely are all unique in our own ways and I want a doctor that has had some actual meat in their hands before they get to mine. How about you????

If we don’t keep the community generally educated in science then the need for science education becomes less valued by society. That can lead to mistakes like this happening and that can have very real consequences for real people and their families.

So I’m setting you a challenge. Do a virtual dissection online. Do the best one you can get Google to give you. Do it as many times as you like. Then dissect the real thing. I guarantee you that you will find it easier than going in without any pre-study at all, but I also guarantee you that you will have moments when you think “hang on, what am I looking at here?” and have to work a bit harder to get the full picture.

Now put yourself in the shoes of your average kid in Junior Science. They deserve a fighting chance at understanding their bodies properly so they can make good decisions later in life – especially if they find themselves hanging over you with a scalpel in their hand one day.