Photo Manual and Dissection Guides

How do you plan on tackling dissection labs if you do high school biology at home? A) View a dissection video; B) Ask a knowledgeable friend to assist you; C) Have Dad do it; or D) Roll up your sleeves and just dig in? If you're pondering your alternatives now and aren't sure how to facilitate such a messy endeavor, take a look at this excellent (and reasonably priced) resource! Written for the beginning biology student, these guides offer lots of helpful diagrams, readable anatomical descriptions, lots of labeled and enlarged black-and-white photos of dissection specimens and even self-quizzes for the student on each body system as follow-up. Written directly to the student, it's designed to circumvent some of the typical frustrations found even in class biology labs: specimens that don't fit the norm, unclear directions, students who aren't sure how to use the tools, etc. The guides are organized by body system (digestive, circulatory, urogenital, circulatory and nervous) and also contain introductory information on anatomical terms, external features, the skeletal system and general dissection helps. Each section of the guide walks the student through how to proceed with the dissection, how to use the tools, and instructs them on what to look for. Major structures to locate are highlighted with bold, capitalized font and a short description of the location and function. This is typically followed by full-page black-and-white (but good-resolution and clear) photos of a dissected specimen with structures labeled. The spiral-bound format makes it easy to lay the guide next to your pan so you can easily refer to it during the lab. I also really like the self-quizzes, which can be used for review or assessment if desired. These feature short-answer and explanatory questions about the structures examined, terms to define, and perhaps a diagram to label. The end of each manual also includes a checklist of features you can use to keep track of your progress. If frog or fetal pig dissection is part of your biology course and you feel you could use more help than is provided, I would strongly consider one of these manuals. It's much less expensive than a dissection video and gives you a thoroughly guided tour through the specimen. Armed with one of these, you (or Dad!) might just be ready to "roll up your sleeves and dive in" even if you scarcely remember your own high school biology class. - Jess

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