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Anatomy Education Redefined

Anatomy Education Redefined

The future of science education has arrived at USM, in the form of the Anatomage table—a life-sized anatomy and digital dissection tool. The table can be positioned horizontally or vertically and features high-resolution images of real-life cadavers that were donated to science. Students can study the bodies layer by layer, including muscular, skeletal, circulatory, and nervous systems. Animations of a beating heart, rotating shoulder blade, circulating blood, and more allow them to observe the mechanics of movement within the body. The ability to see detailed, high-resolution images of specific areas of the body, down to individual blood vessels; to rotate, flip, and turn the body; and to make—and then undo—incisions; means students can learn about the human body in ways they haven’t been able to before.

But the Anatomage table is not limited to the study of anatomy. Physics students can use it to track force vectors while playing air hockey, biology students can use it to study Drosophila fly genetics, and chemistry students can use it to observe the shapes of atomic orbitals. As students become more comfortable with the table, they could even test their skills in global anatomy competitions.  
“I’ve never seen any piece of equipment that contains this much detailed information,” said Bob Heun, Upper School science teacher. “If you want to know the name of an individual blood vessel, it’s there. 
If you want to see a particular muscle and the nerves connected to it, it’s there. It’s like having an incredibly interactive encyclopedia  at our fingertips.”

Traditional methods of anatomy study, like dissections of sheep brains, will remain in Heun’s classroom. But he hopes that the table will open doors to careers in the medical field that students may not have considered. “This could help to broaden perspectives for students who enjoy working with the body but don’t necessarily want to become doctors,” said Heun. “There’s a need for physical therapists, rehabilitation specialists, even anatomical illustrators. Gaining a knowledge of human anatomy is valuable for all of those careers.”

Students study biology with an Anatomage table.
A teacher conducts a virtual dissection using an Anatomage table.
Teacher Bob Heun stands next to a muscular view of a person on an Anatomage table.