April 20, 2017—Students in Lindbergh High School’s anatomy class are dissecting sheep hearts to better understand how the human heart works. The anatomy class, taught by health science teacher Maren Delaney, uses sheep hearts because the structure and function of a sheep's heart is nearly identical to that of a human.
In class, students identify the four chambers of the heart, along with the valves and blood vessels that flow in and out of the heart. Using the sheep hearts, students are able to see how the heart is similar and different from what is presented in textbooks, and on charts and models. Students see first-hand how the heart is basically hollow with walls made of muscle; the septum divides the heart cavity into a right and left heart. Each side of the heart is divided into an upper chamber (atrium) and lower chamber (ventricle). The heart works as a double pump with the right heart receiving blood that has come from the body and is depleted of oxygen. This blood is pumped to the lungs where the blood gets rid of carbon dioxide and picks up oxygen. The left heart pumps oxygenated blood through the aorta and it then travels throughout the body. A sheep heart structure is very similar to human hearts. A difference is that the human heart is approximately 1.5-2 times bigger than a sheep heart.
(Photos courtesy of Lindbergh High senior Spencer Davis.)