Life-Sized Learning at Brentwood Academy
Brentwood Academy students interested in medical work get next-level training with SynDaver technology
For the majority of high school students who are interested in learning about human anatomy and physiology, a textbook is the best resource available to them. Or perhaps they can find a digital diagram online that gives a bit more of a three-dimensional image. But now, students at Brentwood Academy have the opportunity to train their minds with a SynDaver – the next best thing to studying an actual human – thanks to a generous anonymous donor.
“We were gifted the SynDaver in December of 2018,” says Susan Shafer, director of communications at Brentwood Academy. “The anonymous donor is a parent here who is very interested in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math], and he saw it on the TV show, Shark Tank. He said it was absolutely something he wanted BA to have, so he took the next step and gifted it to us. It’s a huge blessing.”
The SynDaver is a life-sized, anatomically accurate human model that is typically used by those studying medicine, anatomy or other aspects of the human body. The tissues of the model are made of water, fibers and salts, which are similar to a living organism, so it is very lifelike. The SynDaver comes with replaceable muscles, vasculature, bones, organs and more.
“It’s just phenomenal how lifelike the SynDaver is,” Shafer says. “It makes a world of difference for the students to actually be able to see the part of the body that they’re discussing.”
She adds that for students who are planning to go into medicine as their career, being able to use the SynDaver in studies now provides a decisive advantage before moving on to more advanced studies in college.
This is especially true for senior Betsy Spurgeon. “I’ve wanted to be a surgeon since middle school, specifically a neurosurgeon,” Spurgeon says. "Being able to get the experience that you would get in medical school, getting to see the body and figure out how everything is working, is super interesting.”
No doubt Shafer thinks that the SynDaver has taken the school’s anatomy program to another level, and they’re continuing on that trajectory with robotics as well.
“Over the past five years, we’ve developed a very strong robotics program, and actually had five teams go to the world competition this year,” she says. “Those two things combined have catapulted our science program to a different level.”
Currently, only students in the anatomy and biology classes at Brentwood Academy are learning on the SynDaver, and the school is one of only two high schools in Tennessee who have one.
This fall, Brentwood Academy celebrates its 50th anniversary, and Shafer says that the SynDaver represents how they continue to progress with the times.
“People are slightly unfamiliar that there’s a bigger part to our history, and the SynDaver is an example of us continuing to evolve as we look toward the future,” she says.
This article is sponsored by Brentwood Academy.