Students watching a demonstration of a cat dissection

Boston University Field Trip: Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy

Students investigating a dissected pigeon

  • Who: Sponsored by BIO BUGS (Biology Inquiry and Outreach with Boston University Graduate Students)
  • What: An outreach program started in 2006 that encourages Boston area high school students to pursue higher education in the sciences. In the fall, the lab was "Linking Behavior to Genetics" and the spring was "Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy".
  • Where: Boston University Metcalf Science Center (590 Commonwealth Avenue)
  • When: Due to the success of this program, it will be offered two weeks during the school year. One in December and one in May. Our class went to the lab in the spring.
  • Why: Both labs align with Massachusetts Educational Standards for Biology and are great for building scientific inquiry skills. These labs use a hands-on approach to understand key biological principles.
    More specifically, the Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy lab involved three parts: an activity examining skulls and skeletons, an activity examining the internal anatomy, and a lesson on developing a phylogenetic tree of the various vertebrates that were examined. The Biology department at Boston University has several species on display, similar to a museum, which inspired further discussion among the students during the lab.
    In addition, high school students are introduced to a college campus and interact with graduate students to ask them questions about their personal and professional lives.

  • Contact: More detailed information, such as the lesson plans and worksheets, can be found at the BIO BUGS website. If you are interested in volunteering or attending a future BIO BUGS lab, contact the organizers Timery DeBoer at or Eric Crandall at