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Uploaded:2013-06-12
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Wherein Emily dispenses advice on tackling your first dissection.

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The Brain Scoop is hosted and written by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Edited by:
Stefan Chin

Take a moment out of your day to send well wishes to Martina Šafusová, Diana Raynes, Tony Chu, Barbara Velázquez, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning for their help transcribing and translating this episode. :)

Hey guys! Welcome to my first vlog on this channel and actually, it's not my first vlog because I just recorded one and then realized I didn't turn the mic on. So, uh, we're gonna do this again, we're gonna try it again. Today, I wanted to address something I get a lot of questions about and that's peoples' first dissections. I get a lot of messages from people that are like

"Hey, Emily, I'm going into my biology class today and we're dissecting kittens or earthworms or frogs or whatever and do you have any advice?"

And I guess my advice to you guys would to be just to go for it because the longer you spend psyching yourself out for something like this, like, the less you're going to get out of the actual experience itself. Um, you're gonna get, you're gonna get yourself all hyped up about it, you're going to get really nervous about it, you'll be thinking about it all during lunch, like "should I be eating lunch? should I not be eating lunch? I'm gonna go dissect this thing that's really gross." And then some of you are nervous because you're excited about it and you don't know how to feel about that excitement, like "is there something wrong with me? like why am I so excited about this kind of thing?"

Don't worry about understanding it all at one time, um, there's going to be a lot going on, um, there will be the smell, there will be the sights,  there will be the experience of taking a scalpel and cutting through tissue for the first time. It'll be something new and it's something that you should embrace and it's something that you should try to teach yourself something out of it. And then share this information with your friends and with your family, you know, you can say, like, "today at school, we dissected this pig and it was so gross and I was really grossed out, but the one thing I got out of it is that the liver is the size of an eraser." You know, that is information that people want to know and they'll be like, "really? I didn't know that the liver of a pig, a fetal pig was the same size as a pencil eraser. That's really cool!" And you're putting these kind of things in context. You're putting this information that you have visually taken in yourself, nobody has told you this, you learned this on your own, you know, it was observational skills that brought you where you are today and it's really important to take that out of that experiences, because not every day you get to  dissect a pig or cat or whatever.

I've been talking with a friend who's getting his undergraduate degree in zoology in the UK and it is illegal for him to dissect things. Those kind of experiences let people know what kind of person they are. You know, it's okay if you don't get excited about biology, it's okay if you don't get excited about your first dissection and you go into it and you're just so grossed out you, like, want to throw up and you, you know, maybe will learn that one thing that I'm wanting you to take out of it is whatever you glean from this experience but it's okay to never want to do it again, too. That's totally fine. But I retain that it's still an imperative experience for people who are going into biology to practice these things and to have experienced that. 

So I guess for you who are nervous about going out and doing your first dissection, just embrace it, just grab it and bring it home and hold it there. You know, just really try to get something out of it, um, even if that's the fact that you don't ever want to do it again that's fine, but for those of you who are looking forward to this kind of thing or want pointers or tips I just encourage you to keep an open mind and to explore what is in there. You've been given this opportunity to learn in a hands on environment and it's amazing and we're losing these kind of opportunities in our school systems today, um, and we shouldn't be, so I want you to enjoy it and I want you to have a good time and I want you to tell me what you learned. I want you to send me a message. I wan you to get in touch with me, um, and tell me what you learned, tell me what you found out. I mean, I can't predict what that will be for you, but maybe it's, maybe it's another kind of organ size or maybe you didn't know how things were laid out or maybe you had preconceptions about what it was going to be like and then it was something totally different. I want to know. I want to share in these experiences with you and I want to encourage you to, to enjoy them and to learn something.

So, thanks for watching my first vlog. Yeaaaah, hopefully more to come in the future, maybe, I'm not going to make any promises. Maybe I should just end this, I don't know what to say. Yay. Bye.

Hey! One more thing. Audible.com wants to support The Brain Scoop and its creators and they want to give you a free audiobook. I highly recommend Stiff, the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. If you want to go download that, that's audible.com/brainscoop, so, get yourself a free audiobook and I'll see you at audible.com/brainscoop.