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Life Science: Chicken Wing Dissection

This video shows how to dissect a chicken wing. Students use this video as a tutorial in order to dissect their own chicken wings during the Life Science Grade 4 module. The purpose of the dissection is to help students understand how different structures (like muscles, nerves, and bones) work together to allow the chicken to move (aligned with NGSS 4-LS1-1).


- [Presenter] Hello, today you will be dissecting a chicken wing to understand how different structures, like muscles and nerves and bones work together to allow the chicken to move. You will be using a couple of tools to do that. You have gloves to protect your hands. You have a pair of scissors or something to cut with and you have a tray or a plate to organize your materials, and of course, you have a chicken wing in front of you. Before we begin though, I want to review some safety expectations with you. First of all, it is very important that you don’t touch anything outside your workspace after you have touched the wing. It is especially important that you don’t touch your face or your mouth when you are dissecting the wing. Immediately after the dissection, you will throw the wing, and the plate, and the gloves away, and return your scissors and your tray to your teacher as directed. It is also important that you wash your hands and clean your work area completely. So let’s begin. Let’s first examine the wing closely. Look at the skin. Do you notice the bumps on the skin? If you look closely you might also notice what seems to be like hairs. The bumps on the skin and where the hairs are, is where the feathers used to be attached to the wing. Notice the shape of the wing. Imagine the wing was still attached to the bird. It would be attached in this thick area, right here. If you pick it up and look at it, you’ll notice there’s a white shiny bone. Surrounding the bone is this thick muscle that’s pink and then the white skin around it. This is where this wing would have been attached to the breast of the bird. If you put the wing back down you can follow the shape of the wing from where it was attached to the bird down the wing all the way to the end, which is what we call the wing tip. You will also notice that the wing tip has a structure half-way down it that looks like this. This is where the claw used to be attached to the wing. We’re gonna experiment and play with the wing now and try to move it. If you pick up your wing where it was attached to the bird and find the skin underneath the middle section of the wing and pull on it you will notice that pulling on that section makes the wing tip stretch all the way out. How does it do that? What structures are underneath the skin that are working together to make that wing tip move all the way out. We’re not touching the end of the wing tip, but it’s stretching out anyway. There must be structures working together to allow this bird wing to move like this. Now go ahead and put your wing back down. We’re gonna begin the dissection now. When dissecting I’m gonna show you what to do and then you’re gonna go ahead and do it, but wait until I tell you to dissect before you pick it up and actually dissect. Watch me carefully so that you get it right. The first cut that we’re gonna make is going to be in this thick flap of skin right here. It kind of is in this v-shape of the wing close to where it attaches to the bird. When I say so you’re gonna pick up your scissors like I am and you’re gonna go ahead and cut into that wing, into that flap of skin I mean. You’re gonna cut a v-shape like this. Now you’re gonna use a combination of your fingers and the scissors to pull the skin and tear the skin away from the muscle underneath. You don’t want to cut the muscle underneath the skin. You just wanna move the skin, tear the skin off of the muscle. So you need to watch closely and look what what you’re doing and use your fingers to tear and your scissors to cut. Be careful though, you don’t want to rip that muscle. You can go ahead and try to slip your fingers underneath the skin and then just pull, pull hard. It might seem tough at first but you’ll get it. Just be patient and keep working on it. Once you have torn the skin off of that area go ahead and put the wing down and wait for further instructions. Now go ahead and make your first cut. Remove the skin by tearing and cutting it away from the muscle. Now that you’ve made your first cut you will notice that there are, there is pink right here and right here. There’s like two flaps of pink. This is the muscle of the bird. You know what muscles are. Muscles help you move. You have muscles too, and arm muscles and the muscles of this wing work very similarly. You will also notice that at the end of this muscle there’s this white shiny material, that’s called a tendon. Tendons attach muscle to bone. You have tendons too. The tendons in your body do the same thing. They attach your muscles to your bones to help you move. If you look very closely, you may notice that there is a very thin white line going down the middle of your wing. That’s called a nerve and you know what nerves are. You learned about nerves, right? Nerves sense stimulus in the environment, or sensing structures sense stimulus in the environment and they send the message to the nerve. The nerve then returns a message to the chicken, or to the wing, to tell it to respond. You can imagine that at one time maybe this nerve sent a message to the chicken to move its wing to fly. Okay, go ahead and put your chicken down if you haven’t yet. I’m gonna show you the second step in this dissection. Pay close attention while I do it and then I’ll tell you when to begin. You will notice again that there is two different muscles here, they’re kind of separated a little bit. What you’re gonna do is you’re gonna simply try to completely separate them by putting your fingers in between the two muscles. You need to be very, very gentle when you do this. You don’t wanna use the scissors to cut. But you want to remove the muscles so that you can stick your finger in between. Once you’ve done that go ahead and put your wing back down and wait for further instructions. Go ahead and begin. Remember, we’re dissecting this wing to try to figure out what structures are under the skin and how do they work together to allow the wing to move. Remember, before we made any cuts we moved this wing by pulling down on this muscle. Before we couldn’t see this muscle and we couldn’t see this tendon when the skin was covering it, could we? But we could see that when we pull down on the bottom of this wing it made the wing stretch out completely. We’re gonna go ahead and do that again. Grab this muscle and watch how when you pull down on it, it can make the wing stretch out completely. You can imagine that this muscle and this tendon are working with the bones in the wing tip, and probably other muscles and tendons, to make it move. This answers our questions: what structures are under the skin and how do they work together to allow the wing to move like that? Nerves tell the wing what to do but the muscles and the tendons and the bones are all connected and moving to allow the entire wing to move like a chicken wing does. Go ahead and put your wind down if you haven’t. We’re gonna go ahead and make our third cut, and our last cut. For this cut we’re going to go ahead and cut all of the muscle and tendons in this area away from the bone. I’m gonna show you how to do that. Here you can use your scissors and your hands to do that. Notice your fingers can easily go in to this area of the muscle around the bone. You will feel the bone. It’s really hard. Again you’ll use scissors, you’ll use your hands to go ahead and cut and tear the pink muscle and the white skin and the white tendons away from the bone. Once you’ve removed all of the muscle and the skin and tendons away from the bone and your wing looks like this go ahead and set it down. Now we’re going to watch how the wing moves when the muscles and the tendons aren’t a part and attached to the bone. Go ahead and pull on the wing, on the bone. Notice it still moves a little, but it doesn’t stretch that wing tip out any more, does it? It doesn’t work anymore. Not like it did when the tendons and the muscle and the bone were all attached together and moving. So now you’re able to answer the question that we asked at the beginning of the dissection. What structures are under the skin and how do they work together to allow the wing to move like that? Soon you will be cleaning up, but before you throw the wing away, I want you to take one more look at the wing and talk with a partner about the structures that are a part of this wing. Use the wing to point out the bone and the muscle and the tendon and the skin, because you will be recording all of these structures in your student science notebook. Go ahead and turn and talk with a partner about the structures that you found in the wing. Remember how muscles and bone in the wing made the wing tip move and stretch out before we cut the tendon. I want you to turn and talk again to your partner about how these structures work together so that the animal could move. Go ahead and turn and talk to your partner. Congratulations, you have successfully completed a dissection. Remember, you need to throw the plate and the gloves and the wing in the garbage and clean your area thoroughly and wash your hands with warm water and soap. Keep in mind all that you have learned through the dissection because you will be recording the new learning in your student science notebook. You now know how structures work together underneath the skin of this wing and even our skin to allow us and this wing to move. It’s pretty cool. Now you’re gonna turn your attention to your teacher for more directions on how to clean up and then finish your work of studying this wing and movement while using your student science notebook.

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