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Broccoli Surrounded By Cheese

After more than two decades of teaching biology at Winthrop University in South Carolina, Dr. Silvia Wozniak added “internship coordinator” to her title last year. She soon realized that she needed to reach out to students where they spent the most time—online.

“They are scrolling Instagram constantly,” she said on a recent Anatomy in Clay® Learning System podcast. “So I said, ‘okay, that’s my way to feed them broccoli surrounded by cheese. I’m going to reach them that way. And it kind of worked.”

Wozniak says the students enjoy seeing their work—or fun quizzes—on Instagram, whether it’s a structure they’ve built with Anatomy in Clay® Learning System or working with one of the other instructional methodologies.

“We need to make the students engaged,” says Wozniak, “and make education fun.”

Anyone listening to Wozniak and fellow assistant professor Dr. Jena Chojnowski on the podcast will know immediately that the pair have the ability to give the instructional environment a playful edge—all while keeping standards high.

For Chojnowski, that means recognizing the variety of learning styles in every classroom.

“I like to come at it from as many angles as possible,” says Chojnowski. “No student is the same … the way that they learn is very different per student.”

Chojnowski adds: “Not all four ways that I present the data is going to be this masterful like, ‘Oh, I get it now’ moment for each of the students, but hopefully one will and the other three just kind of help it out.”

Wozniak and Chojnowski provide instruction through lecture and case studies, through hands-on learning with the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System, via an Anatomage table, through dissections, through some rote memorization, and via studying plastinated specimens, too.

In a 16-week course, says Chojnowski, covering 11 human body systems is a lot to squeeze in, especially when you need to leave time for tests and quizzes.

“We definitely like to throw the book at them—the hands-on book,” says Chojnowski.

Wozniak says the Anatomy in Clay® Learning System is particularly helpful when it comes to building—and manipulating—such anatomical structures as the nephron, for example.

“In most of the diagrams of the nephron, you're going to have the renal corpuscle and then you have the proximal convoluted tubule, the Loop of Henle, the distal convoluted tubule, and the collecting duct,” says Wozniak, “But the distal convoluted tubule goes back to the vascular pole of the nephron and there is the juxtaglomerular apparatus which senses blood pressure and tubular pressure. So that visual, in a fixed model, I cannot obtain. But with the clay, once I make the nephron, usually, as it appears, I can put that tubule back into position to get that physiological relationship.”

Wozniak says the students enjoy building with clay “because you have that active motion—you are designing and you're putting it together.”

Chojnowski says she asks students to roll out the entire digestive system in clay, including the entire proportional length of the small intestine and place it in the model along with the lungs, kidneys, and bladder. “And then I’m like, ‘okay, guys, now let’s put a fetus in it too … I always add that at the end—I don’t tell them that in the beginning—and it like blows their mind. I love that part.”

Anything to introduce that “fun factor,” says Wozniak, “really works well.”


Thank you to Drs. Silvia Wozniak and Jena Chojnowski for joining us on the podcast. To follow on Instagram, head to






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