Local museum hosts Valentine’s Day heart dissection


Cortland resident Michelle Berge with son Ethan, age 7, watch while Molly Trickey, Executive Director of the Midwest Museum of Natural History helps dissect a pig heart at Dissection Workshop: Have a Heart, an educational event hosted by the Midwest Museum of Natural History at 425 West State Street, Sycamore on Saturday afternoon.

By Brooke Shinberg

Charlotte the spider certainly wouldn’t have approved of a local Valentine’s Day-themed class.

Children and their parents were able to dissect pig hearts on Saturday at the Midwest Museum of Natural History, 425 W. State St. in Sycamore, in honor of Valentine’s Day.

This limited class was a registration-only event and lasted for an hour and a half. Museum Executive Director Molly Trickey said all the events held by the museum are planned four months in advance.

“This is our first time doing hearts,” Trickey said.

The other dissections held at the Museum of Natural History have included garter snakes, sharks, frogs, squids, owl pellets and sand worms, Trickey said.

“The pig hearts are most close in structure and size to a human heart,” Trickey said. “It’s in honor of Valentine’s Day.”

The participants were given a scalpel, a wooden stick, a dental pick and scissors, and Trickey directed them through the dissection process. Trickey also had the help of two volunteers. Sue and Devin DeRaedt have volunteered at the museum since November 2012. Devin DeRaedt has helped with the dissection of baby sharks before.

Brian Filippi and his 8-year-old daughter, Jozelle, travelled from Yorkville to participate.

“Her sister did the garter snake dissection and Jozelle wanted to do this one,” Filippi said. “Seems like we come up here for one thing or another three or four times a year.”

Cortland resident Michelle Bergeson and her 7-year-old son, Ethan, had a shorter journey, as they came from Cortland.

“We missed it at STEM Fest at NIU, and he really wanted to do it,” Bergeson said.

The hearts were purchased through Bio Corporation of Alexandria, Minn., and after the class ended the hearts were sent back, Trickey said.

“They have to be properly disposed of,” Trickey said.

The class explained the different functions and ways of functioning, but it also dispelled a long-standing myth.

“There is an urban legend that your blood is blue when it doesn’t have oxygen,” Trickey said. “Your blood is never, ever blue in your life.”

Trickey explained that when your blood has little or no oxygen, it is a dark deep red, and when it is full of oxygen it is a bright, vibrant red.

In March, the museum will hold a presentation in conjunction with Big Run Wolf Ranch, 14857 Farrell Road in Lockport. During the presentation, participants will meet a live wolf, coyote, groundhog, skunk and porcupine. Registration is required and can be completed by calling 815-895-9777.