The air was filled with excitement and the smell of formaldehyde as STEM Sorority prepared for our first dissection! The stars of our first-ever dissection were, of course, starfish! 

Lovingly christened Steve or Patrick from Spongebob, the starfish were distributed to groups of 3 or 4 and the dissection began. To prepare for the lab, we watched a video showing us how to carefully peel off the skin using scissors and a scalpel to get to the starfish’s digestive gland and gonads. We started off by removing the starfish’s  skin along the arm, revealing a fascinating pattern under the skin:

Did you know that starfish can regrow limbs if they are severed? Some of our members wished that the starfish were living so they could test this out!

Here are some more starfish facts:

  • Starfish don’t have blood running through their veins like we do. Instead, they have a water vascular system; they pump water in and out of their bodies to move. 
  • Starfish reproductive organs look the same between males and females, so we weren’t able to differentiate the gender of the starfish.
  • One group hollowed out the contents of each starfish limb and began wearing the outer skin on their fingertips.
  • One group even found shrimp and seaweed in their starfish’s stomach! This starfish was officially deemed Patrick.

Overall, the lab was a success, with starfish facts aplenty and many STEM Sorority members channeling their mildly frightening inner “mad scientist”.