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Learning the scientist's role: Animal dissection in middle school
Based on fieldwork in sixth-grade science classes, this article looks at how students managed the dissection of fetal pigs. Although most students were initially ambivalent and squeamish about dissecting, they learned to transform the animal and the situation into one that was not only neutral but positive. By transforming their contact with the fetal pigs, accentuating the positive, avoiding part or all of the dissection, becoming macho, and using light-hearted humor, the students could regard the animals as mere specimens and not feel ethically or emotionally uneasy. It is argued that this transformation serves as a rite of passage into the scientific community.