As I mentioned awhile ago, one of our homeschooling friends set up a GREAT activity. She has a neighbor who is a retired neurosurgeon, researcher, and professor at USC medical school who volunteered to dissect cow's eyeballs with some of the older homeschoolers (who knew you could order cow eyeball dissection kits on the internet!). Mackenzie was very excited about this, especially since he's been thinking a bit more about maybe going into biology or medicine.
It was a really interesting activity. Not having done any dissection before, it was all new for the kids, but they got a lot of great information from their mentor and it really was fascinating stuff. Mackenzie wasn't sure ahead of time whether or not it would gross him out, but he really enjoyed himself. Cutting the tissues was quite difficult, but when it came to slicing away the lens and the iris, he found that all fascinating. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to be a surgeon working with such delicate tissues, and trying not to slice them all up. I call this Mackenzie's "mad scientist" look...
The lens was very hard, almost like a marble, but some of that comes from the preserving of the tissue. The backs of the eyeballs are reflective, like many animals, to aid in night vision. They looked irridescent, almost like an abalone shell.
Of course, no dissection is complete without some hijinks with the finished product.
One of the moms volunteered to lead a fun activity for the younger crowd. They designed containers using straws to drop eggs in, then dropped them from various heights and recorded whether or not they broke. Then they put on a skit for the rest of us when the dissections were complete. All in all, it was a very cool activity day. As the kids get older and more and more really interesting opportunities open up to them, homeschooling just gets more and more fun.