2: Grades 5-8
Backbones - Chicken-Style
is one of the most widespread forms of alternative medicine
in the United States, with over 40,000 practitioners
who use spine manipulation to treat a variety of illnesses.
Such practitioners believe that by properly aligning
the spine, they open up the flow of "nerve energy" and
"innate intelligence," thereby curing ailments. Skeptics,
however, cite questionable techniques and a lack of
scientific evidence to support such claims.
As you saw in Adjusting
the Joints, the backbone is the target of chiropractic.
In this activity, you'll get a chance to observe the
individual bones that comprise the neck portion of a
chicken's backbone. After cleaning the bones of tissue,
you'll examine these dried vertebrae and observe how
they are adapted for support and protection.
activity page will offer:
An activity in obtaining and examining chicken vertebrae.
opportunity to observe articulation of chicken vertebrae.
insight into chiropractic skepticism.
of a roasting or frying chicken that has been prepared by
newspaper (to protect desktop)
wire (from local hardware or electronics store)
to a stove burner, oven, and refrigerator.
and preparation should be performed by the instructor. The
bones should not leave the classroom since they can present
a choking hazard to dogs and other animals.
- Obtain a chicken neck for each group of two students
from a local butcher or meat section of a large market.
- Prior to class, place the necks in boiling water for about
- Once they have been boiled, place the necks in a large
pan and allow them to cool.
- Work in groups of two. Spread out scrap newspaper to
protect the desktop during this activity. Put on a pair
of rubber gloves.
- The instructor will supply you with a cooked and cooled
chicken neck. Carefully begin to remove the soft tissue
and muscle from around the bones. Do not pull the tissue
too hard, since excessive force will disassemble the neck.
Examine this item closely while you work, then answer Question
- Thread a section of bell wire through the hole within
each vertebra to keep these bones together and in order.
- Once the meat has been removed, seal the bones in a Ziploc
bag. Label the container with your names and give it to
your instructor. The instructor will place the container
in the refrigerator.
- Clean up your station and dispose of the chicken tissue
according to your teacher's instructions. Clean and wash
your hands well.
- Wait five days.
- After five days, cover your desktop with scrap newspaper.
Put on another pair of rubber gloves. Over the classroom
sink, remove the chicken bones from the bag and rinse the
- Have the instructor place the bones in a kitchen oven
(convection) at 200 degrees for about one hour.
- Remove the bones from the oven and let them cool off.
Scrape off any remaining tissue. You may need to use a plastic
knife to reach any meat left in the bone recesses.
- Once the vertebrae have been dried, press them together.
Observe how they move and connect with each other. Note
the points of contact. Move and bend the series of bones.
Observe how the structure of the backbone can offer a strong
but flexible column. Draw a diagram of this structure.
- When you have completed these observations and the questions
below, clean up your station and dispose of the bones and
waste material according to your teacher's instructions.
Clean and wash your hands well.
- What types of tissues and structures could be identified
in the raw neck section?
- How many vertebrae were found in the neck?
- How are the neck bones adapted to protect the delicate
- How are the neck bones adapted to allow flexibility of
the spinal column?
- Compare and contrast the role and structure of chicken
and human neck bones. Check out the comparative anatomy
Web site below for more information.
more about comparative anatomy here: http://www.biology.eku.edu/RITCHISO/342notes2.htm
Know Your Vertebrae
they have minor differences in appearance, human and chicken
vertebrae share several common characteristics. Use a classroom
model (or the bones you obtained from your chicken neck) along
with print and electronic resources to find and identify the
following bone parts: spine, vertebral foramen, centrum, lamina,
and pedicle. Draw a diagram and label these parts.
According to Daniel Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, most
illnesses can be traced to a pinched nerve caused by a misaligned
spinal column. Apply what you know. Use critical thinking
strategies to examine and critique this chiropractic connection
to infectious disorders such as measles, flu, and AIDS.
Some people believe that as long as chiropractors are not
harming patients, they should be allowed to practice. Others
feel that a belief in a scientifically unsubstantiated therapy
might dissuade an individual from seeking an accepted medical
procedure or treatment. Still others believe that the risk
of damage to neck arteries by chiropractors is sufficient
to stop all such practices. What do you think? Does the government
have a responsibility to curb unfounded claims? Why or why
not? Who should decide whether a therapy works or doesn't
work? What criteria should be used in this evaluation?
Bones and Muscles
This site provides great detail about human anatomy.
Skeleton of the Chicken
Facts about a chicken skeleton.
A Skeptical View
A detailed article about chiropractic and its lack of scientific
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,