The Cow Eye Dissection is a discovery-based
activity. Students will develop a
basic understanding of the components of the eye, how the eyeball works, and
the relationship between an eye lens and an optical lens.
This is an Exploratorium activity: http://www.exploratorium.edu/learning_studio/cow_eye/index.html
This activity should take about 60
minutes to complete.
groups (3 or 4)
a) The objective of this lab/activity is to introduce the
following key concepts:
-Components of the eye
-Inner workings of the eyeball
b) The objective of this lab/activity is to reinforce the following
-Bending of light
How does the eyeball work?
This lab requires one cow’s eye, one
single-edged scalpel, scissors, wax paper, paper towels, plastic garbage bag,
dissection board, sheet of newspaper, and soap and water.
Cow eyeballs can be found through meat packers, or you can
order them from science supply companies. There is an instructional page provided, but I would just project the
procedure to the whole class. The
The procedure Cow Eye Dissection is very straight
forward. The diagrams included in
the procedure really help students visualize the steps. During this experiment, students take
apart a cow eye. It can be pretty
gruesome, but I always give the students an option of not participating and
writing a report on the workings of the eyeball instead.
Safety First: Students will be using a scalpel to cut the cow's eye, so care must be taken. Handling raw meat can be problematic, so rubber gloves would be a good idea.
There are tutorials posted by the Exploratorium that will
walk you through the dissection if this is your first time.
The Cow Eye Dissection is a collaborative learning
activity. To succeed, students
will need to work together, follow instructions, and use their time wisely.
activity should be graded for completeness.