Researching the Cheetah in Animal Science

by Mackenzie W. ’21 and Tina L. ’22 

Animal Science, a class here at Foxcroft, allows students to study the behaviors and characteristics of different organisms. Recently, one project we completed was to create a model of a specific animal’s skin, skeleton, and digestive organs in order to study the adaptations and digestion system of the animal. My group chose the cheetah, a spectacular animal known for its speed. With research, we were able to connect why the cheetah could run so fast, looking at traits such as hind leg elasticity and increased lung capacity. It was a bit hard doing the research because we could not find too much exact information about the cheetah online, and needed to process scientific articles which took a lot of time to pull out the information we wanted.
Our extensive research then translated into a model, which consisted of several painted acrylic slides showing various systems of the cheetah. The first slide — a skeletal outline — was created using the laser cutter. With the advantage of the laser cutter, we were able to impose a picture we found online onto the slide, allowing for an almost perfect reflection of the cheetah’s skeletal system. But we also had to create a slide for the physical appearance of the cheetah. Using paint, we set to work on tracing the outline of the animal and adding details such as the spots or fur texture to distinguish the cheetah’s characteristics. Additionally, we added a slide relating to the cheetah's digestive system. This area of research was what proved to be challenging as sources surrounding cheetah digestion were incredibly scarce. So we improvised, ultimately using the digestive system of a cat as our inspiration, but on a larger scale.

Throughout the process, we became more familiar with the structures inside a cheetah. We presented our research to the class at the end of the project. While we found some parts of the project to be challenging, the overall product reflected how much time and effort we put into researching our animal and revealed the satisfaction of creating such an artistic piece.
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.