Breaking Down the Wonders of the Human Body: A Neurodiverse-Inclusive Approach to Biology Education

Written by Arushi Pandit, FCSN Voices Youth Reporter

Graphics by Olivia Koo, FCSN Voices Graphic Artist 

The complexity of the human body makes it both a fascinating and a challenging subject to comprehend, particularly for special needs individuals. The terminology and concepts used to describe human anatomy can also be overwhelming and frustrating, making it difficult for special needs individuals to grasp the subject and limiting their access to educational resources in the medical field. To bridge this gap, Med-ucate, a student-run nonprofit program, provides free healthcare education by employing interactive teaching styles to help students of all learning abilities understand subjects such as anatomy and physiology. 

Since 2019, Med-ucate has partnered with FCSN to host numerous after school and seasonal programs that explore the body systems through various hands-on activities. By using basic materials like rubber bands, cups, and balloons to conduct experiments, Med-ucate volunteers aim to empower FCSN students by educating them on their well-being through an understanding and knowledge of healthcare concepts. 

This spring, Med-ucate returned to host classes on the wonders of the human body, taught by high school students Dnyanada, Sonya, and Anushka. Having volunteered as instructors of the Med-ucate program in the previous year, they sought to adapt their teaching styles to accommodate the diverse learning needs of FCSN students. 

For example, Anushka noticed that her students learned better with the use of analogies, which she incorporated into her lessons. Likewise, Dnyanada and Sonya noted that FCSN students responded better to an interactive learning environment, in which they could actively engage with physical materials related to a specific topic. By adjusting their teaching methods, these instructors aimed to provide a more inclusive and enriching educational experience for all FCSN students.

Biology By Med-ucate instructors: Dnyanada, Sonia, and Anushka (left to right)

In one of the Biology By Med-ucate lessons, FCSN students were introduced to the complex topic of blood types. “Understanding the various blood type systems and their relationships can be a daunting task as it requires the ability to retain and process lots of information,” Sonia said. Nevertheless, recognizing the challenge that this topic presented, Sonia and the other two mentors decided to use three different colored waters to represent and teach the three main blood types. “By using a visual representation, the students were able to grasp the concept more easily and quickly,” Anushka said. 

Furthermore, the instructors also performed mock transfusions using the colored water, showing the students firsthand the importance of blood type compatibility. By mixing the different waters with each other, the instructors demonstrated which blood types could be donated to other people and which couldn’t. If the color changed, it indicated that the blood types were incompatible; on the other hand, if the color remained the same, it meant that the two blood types were compatible. Dnyanada shared, “By taking a hands-on approach, we were able to create a more immersive learning experience that made the topic more accessible and easier to comprehend for the students.”

Instructors performing mock transfusions with the help of the FCSN students

Empowering students to learn about the human anatomy in order to better take care of themselves, Med-ucate prioritizes interactive and engaging teaching styles. The dedication and passion of mentors in accommodating the learning needs of their students are a reflection of Med-ucate’s goal to make a positive impact on the lives of underrepresented students. In the future, Med-ucate aims to continue working with FCSN to bring healthcare knowledge to the special needs community.

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