For my STEAM project I created a painting of the human heart, using various chicken materials such as molted feathers, eggshells, and chicken food crumbles. I felt that these thinks tie into the concept of the human heart because even though we think chickens and our hearts are simple, they are both surprisingly complex and intermingle with many other aspects than the one we think of such as the respiratory system for the heart and feathers for chickens. I used chicken feathers to show the path of blood through the heart, which is also highlighted with blue and purple paints behind the feathers.
The painting looks very complicated, but once it is broken down into components it is much clearer. First is the painting of the heart itself. Starting with the 3 vena cava veins on the upper left, oxygen depleted blood empties into the right atrium. It then passes the tricuspid valve which I used eggshells to symbolize and the blood travels into the right ventricle and is pumped up into the pulmonary artery from the contraction of the right ventricle. It is important to note that the muscle wall in the right ventricle is thinner than that of the left ventricle, since it does not have to pump blood as far as the left ventricle. In the pulmonary artery blood passes by the pulmonary valve, which prevents blood from falling back down into the right ventricle. Blood then travels into the pulmonary capillaries, where it is oxygenated by the lungs. The lungs in the painting are full eggs since they are oval shaped and contain lots of nutrients essential to the body. To show oxygenated blood I used several things. First, I used different colored feathers to distinguish clearly that the blood has changed. I also changed the blue highlights in the background into purple ones, and lastly, I used some chicken food crumbles to show that the blood is now carrying a resource that brings energy to its destination, which is oxygen. Once the oxygenated blood leaves the pulmonary capillaries it travels down the pulmonary vein into the left atrium and past the mitral valve, which is also known as the bicuspid valve. Note that the valve color changed, which symbolizes the oxygenated blood passing through it. Once the blood reaches the left ventricle it is pumped through the aortic valve into the aorta and is delivered to the rest of the body.
I thought that using chicken materials would help symbolize how central the heart is to our body and wellbeing, since it plays such a vital role in allowing our body tissues to function at peak efficiency. Chickens spend their whole lives to pursue one goal, which is to hatch their eggs and raise their chicks. While we do not spend our entire lives protecting and nurturing our heart, our heart’s function, efficiency, and health affects nearly everything that we do. It is what keeps our brain supplied with oxygen, so it does not shut down, it allows us to sit down and rest without having to constantly move to circulate our blood. It does this automatically, so we do not have to devote energy into manually beating our heart, so it is a large boon to our being able to function as well as we are able to. We should take good care of our heart by doing regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and drugs in order to maintain heart health since it has such a central role in our body. It is a very vital organ that allows us to do so many things, so we should take care of it as best we can like a chicken takes care of its eggs.
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- Healthwise Staff. (2020, August 31). How the heart works. How the Heart Works | Michigan Medicine. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tx4097abc.