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ExplorationWorks gets to the "heart" of biology to teach kids

Jessie Herbert-Meny dissecting heart
Posted at 2:05 PM, Feb 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-20 16:05:06-05

HELENA — ExplorationWorks is giving kids hearts for Valentine's Day, and they are not just on a card.

"It was crazy," said 10-year-old Leyla Tabor.

She was one of over twenty kids who were able to tug on real heartstrings.

"[It felt] slimy, a little bit," Tabor said.

The sheep heart dissection TinkerLab at ExplorationWorks was held the Saturday after Valentine's Day.

TinkerLab Classroom

The Deputy Director of Programs at ExplorationWorks, Jessie Herbert-Meny, said, "We think about hearts a lot at Valentine's Day, but maybe not our real heart and how it works."

Herbert-Meny led the dissections.

"Kids at first are kind of like 'oh, no. I don't really want to do that.' and by the end, all of those kids were touching the heart and were just amazed to see the valves and the different chambers of the heart and to learn how blood pumps through," said Herbert-Meny.

She says that this TinkerLab gives kids a better grasp of their bodies, showing the anatomy of the heart along with an explanation of what each part does.

"It can help kids understand how to take care of their own bodies. What their body needs to be healthy," she said.

Parents were also able to get their hands on the hearts.

Parent and child watching heart dissection

Herbert-Meny said, "For parents and adults to do that with the kiddos is just really powerful. To have that time for them to play and learn together."

ExplorationWorks also dissect brains and eyeballs at different TinkerLabs, and Carolina Biological Supply provides all of their dissection material.

"Sometimes we can call around to our local butcher shops and get some hearts that way as well," said Herbert-Meny.

Boeing sponsors all TinkerLabs throughout the year, and they happen on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

ExplorationWorks' next TinkerLab will be focused on engineering, and it will happen on March 2nd.