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In the “Do Something Real” High School, ANATOMY IN CLAY® Learning System is a Perfect Fit

Come with us now to check out a great school and meet a cool teacher.

Why do we like this school?

Here’s a one-word hint:


That is, hands-on learning.

Here are some of the subjects being taught:

Architectural Technology. Audio Engineering. Culinary Arts. Digital Film Production. Fire Science. Multimedia Graphic Design. Welding.

And, in addition to all the “usual” classes like mathematics and social studies, there is one called Biomedical Sciences. (We’ll come back to this classroom; hang on!)

Yes, it’s a high school. Can you imagine all the hands-on learning?

And that’s precisely the point. The mantra at this school is “Do Something Real.” The idea is for students to immerse themselves in a potential career track.

The school is the Fred N. Thomas Career Education Center Early College of Denver. That’s a mouthful. How about ‘CEC’ for short?

CEC is located in northwest Denver. The school has been offering “real-life learning experiences in dozens of career-oriented courses since 1976,” according to its website.

One quick walk around the school and you’ll know these classrooms are active.

Yes, hands-on.

Here at Anatomy in Clay® Learning System we are big fans of the hands doing things. The business of sitting in seats and desks and listening to a teacher lecture? Well, we suppose it has its place.

But busy hands help.

Okay, let’s go to the Biomedical Sciences and meet this cool teacher, David Mack.

David has been working at CEC for five years. Originally he was the exercise science instructor. He switched to teaching biomedical sciences three years ago. David spent six years in the U.S. Navy. Then, he attended the University of California (in San Diego) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science. He majored in biochemistry and cell biology and later earned a master’s degree in public health.

You might not be surprised to learn that David teaches with the MANIKEN® Models.

Why? Because, to David’s way of thinking, building a three-dimensional model is better than diagrams or drawing or memorizing. It’s not only the high academic rigor the system allows, he says, but the “creative” side and the “artistic” side that the system allows students to bring out.

“It sticks with them,” says Mack. “It seems that the brain forms stronger bonds and neurons and remembers better when we’re making.

Recently, Mack brought his class to the non-profit Anatomy in Clay® Centers in Denver to study the rotator cuff and the muscle systems of the shoulder. The day was led by Anatomy in Clay® founder Jon Zahourek. Mack, who espouses lifelong learning like few other teachers we have met, sat alongside his students.

The clay learning system, he says, is a tool that helps students become better thinkers. “Anatomy in Clay does exactly that,” he says, “it’s a tool to help them think outside a textbook.”

Seeing the muscles and building the body systems, he says, helps students think creatively and critically. Mack is a big believer in having students solve problems as they learn.

“Everything is a problem and they get to solve it,” he says.

His students agree.

“You use your hands it makes it much easier to show how the form follows the function,” says junior Mariah Medina. “With Anatomy in Clay® you do internalize the information much better.”

Catch those two words?

“Hands.” And “easier.”

Mack believes the brain forms a stronger bond to the information when the concepts are internalized through kinesthetic learning. And hands-on classroom activities, he adds, means more engagement with students.

And that starts, of course, with the hands. “Thank you to Anatomy in Clay,” he says, “for making my job easier—and more rewarding.”

Maybe that’s all there is to learning—do something real.


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