Chippewa Falls teacher receives national award for use of 3D medical tech in classroom
Jul 20, 2023
Students learn anatomy from Chippewa Falls teacher Becky Salonen. Salonen received a national award for her use of 3D technology that helps students learn.
Imagine being able to look at thousands of automated images of a human body on a computer screen.
Not just the external body, but the internal body — everything from the brain to bones to the tiniest of cells. Now imagine the images are on a three-dimensional, human-sized screen and that each is based upon a human body, real cadavers from people who donated their bodies to science.
This is the kind of advanced technology being used in Chippewa Falls High School. It’s so advanced that medical professionals, medical students and researchers across the globe use it daily, not just for learning or training but also for medical diagnoses.
The Anatomage Table has been used at Chippewa Falls High School for several years to immerse students in the most technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization and virtual dissection tools available.
Just one high school teacher in the U.S. was honored for her use of the technology in teaching high schoolers. She happens to work in Chippewa Falls.
Chippewa Falls High School anatomy, physiology, earth science and chemistry teacher Becky Salonen has received a national award for her use of Anatomage’s 3D technology that helps students learn about the human body. The tech is quickly replacing cadavers in medical classrooms.
The Anatomage Outstanding Teacher Award ceremony, held in June in California, recognized one outstanding high school educator, undergraduate educator and graduate/post-graduate educator for their use of the technology.
Salonen said Chippewa Falls High School’s Anatomage Table was delivered in March 2020 just before the school shut down because of COVID-19.
“We weren’t able to use it. It just sat there, but the following school year is when I began using the table with my human anatomy and physiology classes,” she said. “I had spent quite a lot of time learning from other educators across the country about best practices for the table and trying to make sure it went to good use.”
Salonen said when students returned to in-person classes, they were impressed with the new tech.
“Everyone just thought it was so cool. It reminded me of how amazing technology can really help students get excited; invested in something like anatomy,” she said. “It is so much better than a textbook because it’s three-dimensional.”
Chippewa Falls High School teacher Becky Salonen receives a national award for her use of 3D technology that helps students learn anatomy and physiology. She was the only high school teacher awarded for using the advanced technology as a teaching tool.
Salonen said there are many uses for the table.
“There is the cadaver library, but they also have a case library where they have real images of CT scans, MRIs and things like that of people,” she said. “They also have a library that’s more of their physiology. And so they have these animations and things within the body. So you can see how things are working, like the heartbeat, and you can see the valves working and things like that.”
Because the images on the table are life-size and based on real bodies, it’s almost like the students are working on a real cadaver, Salonen said.
“We can zoom in and zoom out and things like that depending on what we need,” she said. “When we’re using the table, and we’re using the cadaver library on the table, we are looking at images of real human bodies. The other really cool thing about the table is that we can change what we’re seeing. So we can change the view so that we remove layers to look deeper into the body. So let’s say we’re talking about the skeletal system in my class, and we only want to look at the skeleton system, I can turn off all of the other structures in the body so we just see that.”
Chippewa Falls High School students examine a skeleton on the school's digital Anatomage Table.
As the winner of the award for high school educators, Salonen received a cash prize of $1,000, a complimentary pass to the Anatomage Conference in California, a commemorative certificate and a trophy for her achievement.
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