Shark skull active learning kit

A modular and inquiry-based resource for learning the core concepts of shark cranial anatomy.

Shark skull active learning kit

In the past year, we’ve interviewed over 60 anatomy educators to hear about their greatest challenges and needs. From those interviews, we’re developing an entirely new type of resource for anatomy courses: inquiry-based, active learning kits! We’re developing the first kit based on the dogfish shark skull.

Illustration of our Shark Skull Active Learning Kit (prototype), showing the stand for the assembled magnetic skull, notebook sheets where students can sketch and plot data, ribbon “ligaments” and pipe cleaner “cranial nerves” that students can insert into the foramina of the hemisected chondrocranium (braincase). Illustration by Aaron Olsen.

The kit will include at least six open-source active learning modules that students can complete individually or in groups of up to four. These kits are intended for use in college-level courses such as comparative vertebrate anatomy, ichthyology, and biomechanics. However, they could also be suitable for advanced high school classes.

Some features of the kit are:

  • A magnetic, 3D puzzle of a dogfish shark skull that students can manipulate to simulate jaw motions such as opening, closing, protrusion, and retraction
  • At least six open-source active learning modules that cover multiple systems, multiple core concepts, and inquiry-based learning
  • A neuroanatomy module where students build a shark brain with cranial nerves (pipe cleaners)
  • Muscle modules where students add rubber bands to the model to simulate muscle actions
  • The option to purchase replacement parts and replenishment kits, if components get lost or broken
First prototype of the physical model in our Shark Skull Active Learning Kit. We created this prototype to test the strength of the magnetic connections and the extent to which the model can be moved while staying articulated. The video also shows how the chondrocranium comes in two magnetic halves to easily view the endocranial cavity.

We’re still developing and testing these kits. If this shark kit is successful, we plan to develop additional kits focused on other species and anatomical regions. If you’re interested in ordering one or more of these kits, please fill out the form below and we’ll keep you updated on our progress!