Biology Faculty Create Lab Kits for Online Human Anatomy and Physiology Courses

New lab kit saves each student roughly $600 over the two-semester course sequence

Biology faculty at Inver Hills Community College have created cost-saving lab kits for two important online and blended/hybrid courses, BIOL 2201: Human Anatomy and Physiology I and BIOL 2202: Human Anatomy & Physiology II. Lisa Tracy took the lead on developing the new kits. Planning for the project began more than a year ago.

Kristin Digiulio serves as Biology department chair at Inver Hills. Kristin reported that Lisa put considerable time and effort into producing a complete lab experience for her online Anatomy and Physiology students.

“Lisa has assembled her own ‘lab in a box,'” Kristin said. “She is committed to providing a hands-on, challenging lab experience for online students, making sure they don’t get short-changed. What makes this project unique is that the lab kit was created specifically for our students at only about 15 percent the cost of ‘canned’ lab kits. I am always impressed with Lisa’s hard work and innovative thinking. She exemplifies Inver faculty’s commitment to our students, their learning, and their success.”

Lisa began teaching biology at the college level in 2009; she started teaching at Inver Hills in 2013. She has an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and a B.A. in Biology from the University of St. Thomas. Lisa reported that the Human Anatomy and Physiology two-semester course sequence is crucial for all nursing majors and many other students pursuing careers in healthcare.

Lab kit boxing up • Photo: Yohannes Agegnehu

“Since the pandemic, there has been increased demand for fully online asynchronous courses,” she said. “In these courses, it is very challenging to replicate the hands-on nature of the lab in an online environment. The on-campus lab experience includes dissection of fetal pigs, cow eyeballs, and brains, not to mention analysis of urine, blood pressure studies, and blood typing work.”

When she first taught Anatomy and Physiology online, Lisa piloted the use of commercially produced lab kits so that students could still perform the essential laboratory work. At the time, the kits were funded by CARES Act COVID money. Fall 2022 is the first semester students would have had to pay for the kit entirely on their own.

Prices for the commercial kits rose this year to well over $300 per student, which would have resulted in a final charge to students of more than $350 per course. The new lab kits sold in the Inver Hills Bookstore cost only $49 or $52 depending on the course. That’s a savings per student of approximately $600 over the two-semester course sequence.

“Anticipating this prohibitive cost, I began work to design kits created within our Biology department that would be high quality, but cost less for students,” Lisa said. “There were so many obstacles to overcome and concerns to address, including safety, liability, equity, cost-sharing, supply ordering, and distribution. That is in addition to the actual creation of written laboratory directions, instructional videos, and lab report-style assessments.”

Supplies for the lab kits were ordered July 1, 2022, at the start of the fiscal year. The goal was to have the kits assembled for student purchase from the bookstore beginning August 1.

“This felt like such a fast turnaround,” Lisa said. “On July 28, once all the supplies had arrived, our assembly crew converged in the biology labs to create the kits. Kristin Digiulio, our program director, Mariella Mackes, our lab manager, Ben Dvorak, our biology lab assistant, and James Schneider, one of our anatomy and physiology instructors, and I all counted, packaged, and boxed up the lab materials. We then delivered 156 kits to the bookstore that same day.”

Lab kit boxing day gallery

Photos: Ben Dvorak, Biology Lab Assistant

Kits for Human Anatomy and Physiology I include:

  • Dissection specimens (rat, cow eye, sheep brain)
  • Dissection tools and safety equipment
  • Model mini-skeleton
  • Tuning fork
  • Pen light
  • Owl pellet for mammalian bone study
  • Reflex hammer

Kits for Human Anatomy and Physiology II include:

  • Dissection specimens (fetal pig, sheep heart, pig kidney)
  • Dissection tools and safety equipment
  • Stethoscope and blood pressure cuff
  • Color strips for analysis of urine and enzyme digestion
  • Blood typing kit

“We appreciate the support for this project from our dean, Yohannes Agegnehu, and from our Biology department chair, Kristin Digiulio, for carefully considering and problem-solving so many concerns,” Lisa added. “I am ever grateful for the committed work of our lab manager, Mariella Mackes, for meticulously researching materials and pricing to ensure the lowest price possible, making these labs accessible for online students. I am also grateful for her patience as we worked through several iterations of pilot lab kits.

“Lastly, I am thankful for the support of the Martin Springborg and the Innovative Teaching Fellowship through the Center for Teaching and Learning that has helped me learn to apply technology needed for instructional materials associated with this project.”

Lab kit boxing up • Photo: Yohannes Agegnehu

BIOL 2201: Human Anatomy and Physiology I

Introduces students to the anatomy and physiology of the human body with special emphasis on the relationship between structure and function and homeostatic mechanisms of the body. Systems and topics covered include anatomical terminology, histology, integumentary system, skeletal system, articulations, muscular system, nervous system, special senses, and endocrine systems. Lab component will hands-on experience with tissue specimens, as well as dissections of organs and a representative mammal. This course meets Human Anatomy and Physiology Society learning outcomes and aligns with content for common healthcare admissions exams.

BIOL 2202: Human Anatomy & Physiology II

Covers anatomy and physiology of the human body with special emphasis on the relationship between structure and function and homeostatic mechanisms of the body. Systems and topics covered include cardiovascular system, lymphatic and immune systems, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, acid-base and electrolyte balance, reproductive systems, and development. The lab component will include hands-on experience with models, histology slides and one or more representative animal specimens. This course meets Human Anatomy and Physiology Society learning outcomes and aligns with content for common healthcare admissions exams.

Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II Welcome Letters

Human Anatomy and Physiology I Lab Kit Materials List

Human Anatomy and Physiology II Lab Kit Materials List

Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab Kits I & II available in the Inver Hills Bookstore in Aisle A

Inver Hills Bookstore
College Center
Inver Hills Community College
2500 East 80th Street
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Maps & Directions
Learn more about Biology and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Lab Kits at Inver Hills by contacting:

Lisa Tracy
Biology Faculty
Inver Hills Community College
Office: Heritage Hall 302
Pronouns: she/her/hers

More about Biology at Inver Hills…

Biology is the natural science of life and living organisms. The field is immensely diverse with numerous branches from paleontology, the study of prehistoric life, to biochemistry, the study of life at the chemical level, to astrobiology, the study of life beyond Earth.

Why Study Biology at Inver Hills?

Acquire a profound understanding of the natural world.
Studying biology teaches you how to relate to the nearly 9 million other lifeforms that share the Earth with human beings. You’ll develop a strong awareness of diverse ecosystems and how they interconnect and adapt to a changing climate.

Key into your individual biology in the context of human civilization.
Biology gives you insights into your own health and wellness while showing where you fit in the grand scheme of living things. You’ll discover how to make more informed decisions about your diet, habits, and healthcare. You’ll also better comprehend biological issues in society and nature such as genetically modified organism (GMOs), vaccines and antibiotics, invasive species, bioscience ethics, and more.

Fight to preserve our one and only planet.
As a biology student, you’ll have opportunities to examine leading-edge, eco-conservation efforts. You will get a handle on the most pressing environmental issues and learn how to combat exploitation linked to corporate farming, mining, energy production and consumption, deforestation, desertification, and more. Species extinction, ozone depletion, and extreme weather are just a few ecological problems that need your attention.

Explore a cornucopia of career options.
Most biologists pursue careers in seven main areas: forensic biology, microbiology, marine biology, wildlife biology, ecology, biological engineering, and biostatistics. Within those areas are myriad specialty occupations. Here are just a few: agronomist, biochemist, environmental analyst, fisheries scientist, forestry technician, genetics technician, plant pathologist, secondary school science teacher, zoologist, and the list goes on.

Transferable skills are the name of the game.
Biology majors need a really big toolbox for the skill set they’ll assemble during their biological studies. Included in that set are investigative, analytical, research, and communication skills obtained from identifying problems, cataloging information, designing experiments, conducting studies, reasoning logically, making data projections, writing research proposals, composing reports, and so much more.

Work in the wildest places.
Biological scientists working in the branches of botany, ecology, entomology, ornithology, and zoology frequently conduct fields studies in exotic locations, ranging from Arctic iceshelfs to temperate rainforests to coastal deserts to alpine belts to flooded savannas to oceanic midnight zones. If you like doing important, adventurous work while living in primitive conditions, biology could be your calling.

Discover solutions to the greatest challenges of your generation.
When you major in biology with the goal to earn an advanced degree, you will encounter opportunities to participate in world-class scientific research. Unanswered questions linked to biology are focused on biodiversity, the origins of life, brain mapping, virus evolution, sustainable agriculture, synthetic life, fatal diseases, DNA sequencing, and more.
Stamp your passport to the scientific universe of biology.

Biology Career Paths

Biology is the study of life.

Careers in biology are almost as varied as life itself. The field has branches and subdisciplines as prominent as ornithology, the study of birds, or the more obscure myrmecology, the study of ants. As a biology major, you will develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for rewarding careers in scientific research and healthcare.

Biology is defined as the study of life. Career options for biology majors are as almost as varied and amazing as life itself. Earning your associate degree in biology at Inver Hills open doors to innumerable occupations, from park ranger to forensic scientist to biology professor to genetic counselor to nurse practitioner to biomedical engineer to biochemist.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *