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Emily Warchefsky ’09 (left) and Carolyn Elya ’09, student-teachers in Reed’s biology outreach program, help students at Grout Elementary School in Portland conduct an experiment about melting points. Below: a dissection illustration from the outreach curriculum manual.

Teaching About the Birds
and the Bees
(and the Flowers
and the Frogs)

By Johanna Droubay ’04
Photographs by Orin Bassoff ’04

Reed’s biology outreach program has provided thousands of elementary school students with a unique introduction to scientific study and experimentation. For many, it’s their only shot at hands-on science education in years of public schooling.

Poised with her surgical scissors about to snip open the belly of a large, dead bullfrog, Linsey Arnold ’07 commands the attention of four fourth-graders at Grout Elementary School in Southeast Portland. With the first cut, a couple of students let out a loud “Eww!”

Arnold is unfazed. “Remember,” she says, “every time you say ‘Yuck’ or ‘Eww’ you are essentially saying that about your own body.”

“Are our bodies different from the frog’s?” one student asks.

science image“Our insides are very much the same,” Arnold answers. “We have all the same organs.”

The frog’s liver, heart, and tangled intestines now make the rounds among the circle of captivated children.

“I always wanted to hold a heart,” says one.

“It looks like an acorn,” observes another.

In a second dissection group, a boy plugs his nose while a girl covers her mouth with both hands. But a third student is totally engrossed. Holding his face just inches from the operation, his focus is contagious.

By the end of the dissection, the queasier students have scooted up onto their desks to get a closer look.

“Hey!” says the student who was holding his nose just a few moments ago. “I can’t see!”