Interviewing Mrs. Newman on Snake Dissections


Angela Gonzalez, Reporter

rOn Thursday, January 31st, some students enrolled in the human anatomy program participated in an after-school snake dissection.

The dissection was held and offered by Mrs. Newman, a human anatomy teacher here at AHS. Under her instruction and supervision, the participating students examined the snake specimen, removed its skin and some of the internal organs.


The students encountered a particularly interesting sight during the dissection: 17 unborn baby snakes.

Images courtesy of Erick Gutierrez, 12th grade

To learn more about the success of this snake dissection, I interviewed Mrs. Newman.

AG:  How many years has this dissection been offered for?

MN: This is our third year of offering it in a row.

AG: What do you think makes the snake dissection so fascinating for students?

MN: I think because snakes externally and internally are so different from humans and often people fear snakes that often some people want to face their fear by seeing them up close and learning about their anatomy.

AG:  What do you find most interesting about the snake dissection?

MN: Ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by snakes; I’ve never been afraid of them and I just want to impart that appreciation for reptiles to my students when we do these dissections and help them be more accepting of different types of animals.  I think it’s also very interesting when the students do parts of the procedure that is different than the other dissections we do- such as removing the skin of the snake and certain organs inside that are very long in structure compared to human organs.

AG: Have you noticed differences in student engagement with this dissection in comparison to other dissections you previously offered?

MN: Definitely. When I started this a couple years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had a number of students sign up and from the beginning when we started the procedure to the end, they were fully engaged, they were not distracted, they stayed focused and were willing to complete the tasks. I think they were just excited already, to begin with, and luckily not too fearful once they saw the real thing and once they realized it wasn’t as scary as they thought. I think they were just highly engaged so that’s why I want to offer it every year.

AG: How do you think that dissections benefit students in general?

MN: A lot of the students who take the human anatomy class do want to go into the medical field, so it’s important that they have real dissection experience to prepare their fine motor skills if they want to go into a career such as a surgeon or a doctor and also just seeing the real anatomy up close and how different it looks versus a picture on the internet or the book. It’s so much better for them to see the reality of the anatomy that they’re learning, so I highly value doing real specimen dissections.

AG: How are the dissections that you offer here at Anaheim High School different compared to the ones offered in other schools in the AUHSD district?

MN: As far as I know, we’re the only school in the district that does the snake dissection and I do have friends that work in other districts in Southern California and they don’t do the snake dissection either so I think we’re the only school in all of Orange County that does snake. We’re also the only school in all of Orange County that does a rabbit dissection, along with a bird dissection (a common pigeon) at the high school level.

Joseph Pham, Junior at AHS, examining the snake to be dissected