Hands-on pluck dissection teaches body system

Mrs. Vicki Smith and Jessica Lam (’13) perform a dissection of the pluck of a sheep to better understand the functions of human lungs.
Photo Credit: Elaine Wong

On Friday, May 4th, junior Respiratory Therapy students at Southwest Career and Technical Academy dissected a sheep pluck. A typical pluck consists of a sheep’s trachea down to it’s lungs, but the plucks that were used also included the liver.

“As a Respiratory Therapist you need to understand the whole body system. That helps you understand the physiological changes you are going to see with people that are ill. If you physically can see the parts, you then will have a spatial view in your head that you can think about when you are assessing, treating, and educating a patient to get better,” Respiratory Therapy instructor Mrs. Vicki Smith said.

The students, grouped in teams, examined the plucks by cutting, probing, and feeling all the parts. They also placed a tube into the trachea and pumped air into the lungs to see how air travels. Students were able to cut the heart of the sheep in half, displaying the different sections of the organ.

“It was an interesting experience, but the smell was extremely overwhelming,” junior Le Mai said.

The plucks were soaked in a chemical called formaldehyde in order to preserve it. Respiratory Therapy students wore lab coats, scrubs, and trash bags in hopes of protecting their clothes from the chemical smell. Some even wore nose clips to keep the smell out.

“Although the dissection was gross and disgusting, it had an educational lesson that I will never forget,” junior Richard DelaCruz said.