Session III-8: Dissection exercise
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Overview: This exercise takes place early in the program, before trainees have access to resources but after they have handled their fish and spent some time on pond management. For many, it will be the first time they actually look closely at the fish with which they have been working. Trainees will receive very specific information about fish anatomy later in the program, but since it is not uncommon to come across unidentified fish species in the field or to lack resource material, it is important to learn how close observation of that animal can provide a good deal of information. In addition, it is important for trainees to recognize that the fish they are raising will eventually be killed, and they must be able to kill fish when necessary. This provides an opportunity for them to observe their own reactions to this aspect of raising an animal for food.
1. In the classroom, trainees are given instructions for this exercise. They are told that each trainee is to catch a fish from his/her own ponds, kill that fish and dissect it. They are to observe carefully, and record and diagram external and internal anatomy and all observations in extreme detail. It is important to point out that this is not a test of the trainees' knowledge of fish anatomy. Depending upon their backgrounds, some trainees may have previous experience and knowledge about anatomy and physiology while others may never have held a fish before coming to training and have little science background. It is an exercise in observation and deductive reasoning. The notes they take will become a notebook section. They are to be handed in the following day, but will be returned to the trainees within a few days to be put into their notebooks.
Have trainees take out a sheet of paper and spend 15 minutes writing down questions they would like to try to answer through this dissection, or specific things they want to look for. Encourage them to also list the steps they will go through to carry out the dissection. (Remind them that since they will be dissecting the fish, the method they use to kill it should not cause physical damage that would make it difficult to identify internal or external organs and/or to observe them as they actually look in a normal fish). When they have finished this and feel prepared, they should go out to their ponds to catch their fish.
2. Each trainee catches a fish from his/her pond, kills it and dissects it, recording all observations and any conclusions that can be drawn. Staff should observe, but should not provide input except in the case where a trainee needs to talk through his/her reservations about killing the fish and receive moral support.
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