The Not-So Walking Dead

Recently, science students visited a cadaver lab with Mr. Gerst. Hannah Williams was there.

Dead bodies. Something that everyone is a bit nervous to hear or talk about. Well this wasn’t the case on Wednesday when the biology 2 class of Mr. Gerst and AP bio class of Mrs. Haggard signed up for the field trip of a lifetime; A chance to go to the cadaver lab at NKU! For those of you who are unfamiliar with this topic, northern Kentucky university receives two bodies a semester for their science classes to use to study anatomy and physiology and other topics pertaining to the body. During their spring break they allow nearby schools to come in and examine the bodies, which is what we did.

Mr. Gerst Bus

So to start out with we weren’t even entirely sure if we were definitely going that day. Honestly our school hasn’t had the best of luck going on this field trip. We as a school have never been able to go because something always happens us that keeps us from our field trip. (Last year their cooler broke and the previous classes didn’t get to go.) So everyone was keeping their fingers crossed, hoping that we would be able to go to something that we had been looking forward to all year. Unfortunately the night before, Kentucky weather decided to mess with us and it snowed. This not only caused the roads to be icy but also kept Mrs. Haggard at home. And since she was the other chaperone, we weren’t going to be able to go. We struggled for about an hour, trying to find someone to go with us and finally we prevailed. Mrs. Wera would accompany us, and with her background of science, she was an ideal replacement. So the trip was back on! Everyone was excited. Buzzing around saying all the things we would hope to do. “I really want to hold the brain!” said Madison Rylee.  I continued to ask people how they were feeling about the trip and surprisingly everyone was extremely optimistic with the only worry of the body becoming too real or personal.  Before the trip I talked to a handful of students and they all agreed that it would be an amazing experience but they were a tiny bit nervous because, well, we just didn’t know what to expect. Lexi Hunter was particularly excited because she wants to be a coroner when she gets older so this was the perfect experience for her to be exposed to what the work conditions might be like.


Everyone was excited to see what the inside of a real human body would look and feel like. So as soon as we got to NKU’s campus, we all ran inside hoping to be in the first group. I was in the second group which means that I had to wait like 30 minutes before I and the rest of my group had a chance to go up and see everything. Once it was our turn, we all got lab coats on, walked up the stairs to the room, walked in and got gloves on. Mr. Gerst and Mrs. Wera were standing in the back next to two bodies with sheets over them. I started getting freaked out. You could tell that everyone was. It was becoming real that there were two dead bodies lying on the tables back there. A man and a woman. The man was 80 whose cause of death was prostate cancer and the woman was about 60 who died of ovarian cancer and kidney failure. I was with the man first and Mr. Gerst was in charge of him. I cautiously walked up to the covered body and waited around the steel table while he gave a little background to everyone.


Mr. Gerst talked about how the man died while he uncovered the body. Surprisingly I didn’t really smell anything too bad, it seemed like dissecting the frogs at school was worse than this smell. The body, however, didn’t really look quite human. All of the skin was gone save a couple fingers, the head and face, and the foot. NKU had a class that skinned the body before we came. Brandt Coleman said to him “It seemed to be like a wax figure almost.” You could tell it had been a real human but it wasn’t really registered in your mind that it once actually was a real human. Even though at first I was a bit taken aback by the whole thing. I was mentally okay with the whole thing. Seeing the face didn’t bother me, and I didn’t become attached to the person. The only thing that made it real for me was the hands and the skull, both of which I held. I won’t go into crazy extensive detail for some of you out there with a bit of a weaker stomach, but I will point out some of the cool major things that I experienced. I got to take out the brain and heart from the body and carry them in my hands. I also held the detached skull of the man which to me was a bit unnerving because he still had hair and skin and everything. So that was a bit weird to hold. I felt all the organs and muscles too.

Overall the whole experience was amazing. I can say I’ve done all of those things and I’m not even college. That’s a big deal since most people don’t get this kind of  opportunity. I talked to some of my peers afterwards and it was unanimous that the trip was incredible and truly the experience of a lifetime.






Hannah Williams


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