My art shows the differences in structure between a normal functioning heart with four chambers, a tricuspid valve and bicuspid valve and a heart with complete atrioventricular canal defect that has one common valve. The lower right heart is a representation of my niece’s heart after having AVCD surgically repaired. She was born in September so I used the September birth month flower, Aster, to represent her. The roots symbolize repairs made to her heart and the strength she has shown since birth, just one and a half years ago.

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  1. Ashley did her STEAM Project on atrioventricular canal defect. She has firsthand knowledge and experience on the subject because her young niece was born with this condition. Atrioventricular canal defect has several different categories or specific types of the disease, and Ashely’s niece has complete atrioventricular canal defect, which is essentially when there is no distinction between the left and right heart chambers. This is due to the ventricular septum not being formed correctly. Atrioventricular canal defect is common in people with Down’s Syndrome, which Ashley’s niece also has. Ashley’s project is very detailed; she has drawn a fully functioning and intact heart which shows all 4 chambers of the heart, and a properly formed ventricular septum. Ashley also explains in her paper how a healthy heart functions and the differences in function in a heart with an atrioventricular canal defect. Without a functioning ventricular septum, the tricuspid and bicuspid valves essentially form one giant valve that doesn’t close all the way and allows oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. This leads to deoxygenated blood in the body’s bloodstream, and a higher volume of blood being sent to the lungs and heart, which causes more strain on the already weakened heart. In addition to the healthy heart, Ashley has also drawn a heart with an atrioventricular canal defect, and then a heart that had an atrioventricular canal defect but was surgically repaired, like her niece’s heart. She does a great job in clearly illustrating the differences between each heart drawing and showing how the affected heart was repaired. This is a really artistic and well-articulated project that taught me about a condition that I had no prior knowledge of.

    Toby Germany

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