Anatomy In Clay®
A Humane Alternative to the Use of Animals in Anatomy Training

Pectoral models of an equine (left) and a human (right) [ENLARGE].

Building an equine model [ENLARGE].

The finished product [ENLARGE].

May 21, 2014

The Mind Cannot Forget What The Hands Have Learned™.

It is a simple motto; however, putting this concept into action is what Jon Zahourek and the Anatomy in Clay® team have spent the last thirty years doing. For the veterinary, medical, and agricultural student, rote memorization from an anatomy manual – or blunt dissection of an animal – can offer a limited benefit, as has been proven throughout the years. But the questions remain: At what cost? Is the dissection model truly necessary? Is there an alternative approach?

The Anatomy in Clay team offers such an alternative – in over nine thousand classrooms – by providing a learning system that offers students a "hands-on" approach to learning. With the Anatomy in Clay Learning System, the student uses clay as the medium to build muscles, nerves, arteries, veins, and other soft tissue structures required for a class. The student has the option to build all but the smallest muscle slips or up to ten different body systems on the respective human or animal models, listed in our catalog as the Maniken®, Caniken®, or Equiken® units. Students and educators also have the option of building a variety of body systems, such as the digestive system, the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and others.

As a classroom activity, the clay is molded into a shape closely matching the target structure in an actual body and is then positioned on the human, canine, or equine models in the proper anatomical location and position. The clay if forgiving, allowing experimentation and reapplication; the models are also reusable, durable, and long-lasting. In this type of educational process, the student learns and identifies the proper attachment sites as well as appropriate positioning, affording insight into both form and function.

What the Anatomy in Clay team and their clients have found with such a hands-on application is that when the student builds it, they've authored it. And when they've authored it, they embody it and own it. The retention of the subject matter increases and the bottom line is that test scores improve. This concept also provides a significant economic and humane advantage: purchase once, use endlessly, as compared to the dissection concept, which requires the need for additional animals for every class, purchased endlessly.

A variety of academic research has been completed comparing the retention rates and effectiveness of the Anatomy in Clay models. Sponsoring institutions include Pennsylvania State University, The University of Illinois-Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Cincinnati-Clermont College, SUNY Downstate Medical Center/Brooklyn, and others. A thorough review of the results offered provides insight into the overall effectiveness of this mode of kinesthetic learning. With Jon Zahourek's commitment to education and the drive for every student to learn about their greatest gift, their body, Jon has also developed a top level nonprofit educational center in Denver, the Formative Haptics Center. The mission of the Formative Haptics Center is "to empower self-discovery in each of us by forming anatomy with our own hands." Workshops are ongoing and a class schedule for future events can be found at the Formative Haptics Center website.

Jon and the Anatomy in Clay team have made it their life's mission to help others explore anatomy by a simple and yet straightforward method of using one's hands to educate their mind about themselves and their anatomy. For additional information about the Anatomy in Clay Learning System, visit their website or contact the team directly at [email protected].

All photos provided by Anatomy in Clay®