As students study the workings of the human body, they can get a much better idea of the heart's anatomy and physiology by seeing a model of the organ up close. Plenty of science kits are available both online and in physical stores, allowing students to interact in 3-D with a mock-up of the heart in their science lessons.
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According to "Anatomical Sciences Education," 3-D organ models built from clay have been successfully introduced to college anatomy classes. The models are then cut to allow students to view how the cross-sections compare to images created using CT and MRI scans. This learning technique works well with models of almost any organ, including hearts; as noted by the Wiley InterScience website, this kind of teaching can have a positive effect on the typical student's understanding of anatomy.
A number of plastic 3-D heart models are available, many of which come in kit form requiring assembly. Some kits are made up of one or two pieces, often featuring a removable front heart wall that lifts away from the main model structure to provide a closer look inside the heart's internal structures. Others feature as many as four or five parts, as described on the General Medical website. These extra parts include removable atrium walls and, in some cases, include the oesophagus and aorta too.
Larger Sized Kits
Most 3-D heart models are suitable for close inspection by individual students or small groups; teaching staff can also use these models for classroom presentations. As the General Medical website notes, a larger 3-D heart model is more suitable for teaching in spaces such as lecture halls. Some plastic kits, including the kit described on the General Medical website, are two times the size of a normal human heart.
Pumping Heart Models
While some teachers might use 3-D heart models to explain how the different pieces look and fit together, another use of heart models is showing how blood actually moves around the heart. A pumping heart model, like the one described on the Home Schooling Supply website, uses squeezable bulbs to pump replica blood around the heart model. The model is enclosed in a see-through plastic case so students can watch the blood circulate around the organ in a realistic fashion.
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