Hope Pacheco (left) and Emilynne Braue are among the Holly Academy sixth-graders, learning about the power of light by dissecting a cow’s eyeballs.

Hope Pacheco (left) and Emilynne Braue are among the Holly Academy sixth-graders, learning about the power of light by dissecting a cow’s eyeballs.

Earlier this month, the sixth-grade classes at Holly Academy concluded their physical science unit with a cow eye dissection.

 Sixth-grade students studied and experimented for eight weeks the physical properties of light. They discovered that our eyes act as a light sensor and it allows us to see.

 Science teacher Andrew Roeser saw an opportunity to take the unit above and beyond the usual textbook teaching.

 He contacted Dr. Debra Bourdeau from Acuity Optics in Commerce Township to see if she could help. To relate the ideas learned in class and teach how they apply to real world applications, Bourdeau and her lab assistant, Sarah Ravenscroft, volunteered their time to lead the cow eye dissection.

 “I was happy to help the students connect what they learned in class with what physically happens in the back of the eye once light reaches it,” said Bourdeau. “They were also able to see how different diseases affect how light is processed in the back of the eye and why it’s important to take care of your health and protect your eyes from UV light.”

 To reinforce concepts taught in the last eight weeks, the team brought in a retinal camera to show students how opticians use the physical properties of light to take pictures of patients’ retinas.

 “Watching my students make the connection between the labs done in class and a doctor’s equipment was amazing,” said Roeser.

 “Our science teachers are always incorporating hands-on experiences for their students,” said Holly Academy Director Julie Kildee. “This dissection project proves that real life science can be brought into the classroom. The students admired the pictures of their own eyes, along with the actual dissection of the cow eyes. That is authentic, real world learning.”

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