Cow Eye Dissection

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The cow eye dissection is a great lesson to use as part of your unit on the nervous system and the five senses. There are several different ways you can use this lesson in the classroom.

Video & Model Only – share and discuss the video above. Using diagrams and clay/playdoh, students can create a model of the eye or use a scientific model to identify the structure and function of each part of the eye. Some students may be very uncomfortable watching the video and they can either turn around and listen or may have to leave the room.

Video, Model, and Demonstration – In addition to above, students can observe a cow eye demonstration. I like to use fresh specimens whenever possible, visiting your local butcher or farm is an option to look into instead of the preserved specimens, and generally are less expensive. Dispose of specimens properly.

Video, Model, Demonstration, and Dissection – In addition to above, students can work in small groups to perform a cow eye dissection. I like to use groups of 3 or 4 per dissection, this saves on specimens and it allows students to work at their own comfort level. Some students will only want to observe, some students want to do a little bit of the dissection, some will dive right in, and others will not take part at all and will have to do either the video/model only or the video/model and then observe your demonstration from a distance. Dispose of specimens properly.

Exploratorium Links

  • Video Home Page (link)
  • Interactive Eye Diagram (link) and printable version (link)
  • Step-by-step Instructions (pdf)

Additional Resources

  • BrainPOP Video – Eyes (link)
  • Study Jams – The Senses – Seeing (link)
  • Teen Health – Eyes (link)
  • Kid’s Health in the Classroom Teacher’s Guide – Vision (pdf)
  • See all you can see – The National Eye Institute (link)
    • Anatomy of the Eye – handout (pdf)
  • The Cow Eye – iBook (link) for iPads or Mac

Liberty Science Center: Traveling Science Workshop – Have LSC (or a local science museum) come to your school to conduct the lesson with your students.

Cow’s Eye Dissection | Grades: 6 – 10
Follow light on its journey through the eye. Led by a Liberty Science Center educator, students will pair off to perform cow eye dissections and in the process gain a deeper understanding of the structure of the human eye.
NJCCCS: 5.1 C, 5.1.D, 5.3.A
NGSS: LS1A: Structure and Function

Download Cow’s Eye Dissection pre-visit activity packet (link/pdf)


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