Project ideas for human anatomy models

Written by joanne robitaille
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Project ideas for human anatomy models
Anatomy models can be made with everyday objects. (plasticine image by S from

Anatomical models don't have to be high tech to be effective. Students can create models of various parts of human anatomy by using items found around the house. While these models might not always completely resemble the body part they're based on, the mechanical processes can still be readily displayed.

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Spinal Column Model

To create a model of a human spinal column, you'll need some string, a couple of buttons, and some spools of thread to act as vertebrae. Empty spools work best, but if the only ones available have thread on them, just tape the end of the thread securely in place. Cut a length of string roughly 24 inches long and knot one end. Slide one of the buttons onto and along the string until it reaches the knot (you may need to tie the knot a few times so the button doesn't slip off). Thread the string through the middle of the spools to make a chain. You can attach five to 10 spools, depending on how long you want your spine to be. Once all of the spools are in place, slide on the second button, then tie a knot to close off your spinal column. Ensure that both of your knots are tied tightly, then cut off any remaining string. Leave enough space in the chain so that it can flex and move.

Blood Vessel Model

Rubber tubing makes an excellent stand-in for blood vessels and veins. By using a small hand-operated bicycle pump, some clamps, and a pair of funnels, you can demonstrate how blockages in blood vessels affect the circulatory system. Place a funnel into each end of the hose and use duct tape to securely connect them. The bicycle pump acts as the human heart forcing blood through the veins when you pour water into the tubing. The clamps act as plaque build-up to illustrate how cholesterol affects blood flow.

Human Eye Model

The human eye is very complex beneath its surface. By using plasticine or modelling clay, you can make a three-dimensional model of the interior of the human eye. First, create a white outer shell. Then, working from a diagram, build the other components (retina, lens, iris, and pupil) with different colours of modelling clay. Use toothpicks to support the lens and iris, depending on how thick you made the walls of the eye. Place the entire structure in a bowl that's roughly the same size and allow the clay to harden.

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