Westridge Upper School Anatomy and Physiology “Draws” Upon an Interesting Way to Learn About Bone Structure

Amisha Gadani, who teaches 7th grade 2D Art, recently made a guest appearance in Laura Hatchman’s 11th and 12th grade Anatomy and Physiology class. Ms. Hatchman had the idea for collaboration early in the year after hearing about Ms. Gadani’s background during Opening Days – the week in August before classes start where new faculty and staff are introduced to the community. With a background in art, scientific illustration, and education, Ms. Gadani seemed a perfect match for an interdisciplinary project as part of the class’ unit on the skeletal system.

Ms. Gadani kicked off the lesson by presenting some of her work. The girls were impressed with her renderings of squirrel monkeys, pufferfish, the eukaryotic tree of life in publications such as the American Journal of Primatology and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology. After presenting some historical and contemporary examples of the way drawing is used by professionals in other disciplines (science, architecture, anatomy etc) the lesson was then turned over to the girls who had their chance to draw a variety of bone structures of mammals. Via overhead projection, Ms. Gadani led them through their illustrations by showing different methods of approach, such as using a trapezoidal shaped “bounding box” to create a pelvis. Student Justine M. ‘18 remarked that she “already drew the bones to help her learn them, so she was happy to draw in class.” Others hadn’t drawn in in years so it was a fun way for them to return to it.

Ms. Hatchman noted, “Drawing helps (the students) identify nuances in the structures. When they take their time and really stare at an object, they start to notice bumps, ridges, and grooves that they might not have otherwise seen. This is especially effective when examining long bones (i.e., the humerus, ulna, radius, femur, tibia, etc.). At first, they look the same, but when you inspect them closely for distinguishing marks and patterns, then you can more easily identify the bone. Drawing also forces to you to appreciate slight anatomical variation from specimen to specimen.”

Students got a special interdisciplinary treat in seeing Ms. Gadani’s animal defense gowns – couture pieces that she designed to mimic animal defense systems, such as The Blowfish Dress, which is a gown that inflates (a blowfish’s stress response) when the wearer clenches his or her fists (a natural human response to fear).

This classroom partnership was not only an approach to science learning from an artistic angle, but it exposed the students to an example of a truly interdisciplinary career. Ms. Hatchman has noticed the evolving landscape of jobs in science “involving multiple interests and talents … There are many points of connection. Science is so great like that; it seems to be a natural discipline that incorporates a multitude of skills and topics.”

Ms. Hatchman and Ms. Gadani’s partnership was just one instance of the sort of “leaning in” that happens at Westridge every day. We celebrate educators like these because they celebrate each other in the best way – by bringing together their strength and expertise to educate and inspire. Photo Gallery

Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.





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