Breaking and Mending

Biloxi Health Science Students Study Bone Anatomy and Repair Fractures in Hands-On Lab

NyKiera Phifer, a senior health science student at Biloxi Career Technology Center, investigates the layers of skin on a broken turkey leg.
NyKiera Phifer, a senior health science student at Biloxi Career Technology Center, investigates the layers of skin on a broken turkey leg.

Amanda Gronewold

"Sticks and stones may break my bones…”

And so can Biloxi health science students.

Kristy Warner noticed her students had trouble understanding and learning about the parts of a bone, so she had them break into these concepts. Literally.

When Warner entered the classroom with raw turkey legs from the local grocery store and tasked students with dissecting the legs and breaking the bones inside, her students needed more than sticks and stones.

“The bone was much, much harder to break than we thought,” Warner said. “Each class had a different method for breaking the bones, but the one that actually worked the best was using a mallet—a hammer.”

When the bones were finally opened, many students were surprised by what they found inside.

“The thing the students were most interested in was the bone marrow,” Warner explained. “The marrow inside the turkey bone had a mushy texture, which was a surprise to most of the students—they mostly thought that the inside of the bone was an empty space.”

After the students examined the bones and demonstrated understanding of their structure, they repaired the fractures using plates, screws, drills, and other tools Warner borrowed from the Gulf Coast Outpatient Surgery Center, where she works part time as a nurse.

“I thought maybe we could use chicken bones, but I didn’t think they would be big enough to be able to use with the fracture sets that I knew the surgery center would let us borrow,” she explained. “I needed it to be closer to the size of a human bone, so I figured a turkey would be the next best option.”

Students raved about their experiences at the bone fracture lab. 

“That was the first time I’d ever had truly 100% engagement,” Warner said. “They were fascinated. I set up different stations, so nobody was bored. There was always something to do, and they loved it.” 



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Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools, and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year.

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