Students in Brian Mason’s class at Chugiak High School didn’t ace their big test last week. They butchered it.


Mason brought a cow moose carcass to class in the back of his pickup truck that morning, and for the rest of the day his students went to work de-boning, separating, grinding and packaging the animal. The bloody business served as a way to immerse the World Discovery Seminar program students in Alaska cultural traditions, give them a basic understanding of anatomy and teach them practical life skills.


“What I try to emphasize — and the World Discovery Seminar program as a whole — is to emphasize experiential learning,” he said as nearly 30 of his students used thin knives to slice up the carcass. “You can learn certainly about anatomy from diagrams and textbooks and videos but getting your hands on an animal is a big part of the science aspect of it.”


The World Discovery Seminar (WDS) program is a “school within a school” at Chugiak whose goal is to “establish a smaller learning community that creates a sense of identity, belonging, and teamwork within the WDS program, while maintaining strong ties to the CHS families of departments and programs,” according to the CHS website.


Around 125 students are participating in WDS, which has four teachers devoted to the program. The program uses the “Paidea” method, which emphasizes Socratic learning, in-depth learning and hands-on activities to get students to become “multifaceted thinkers.”


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