Anyone who has suffered through a middle-school science course knows the horrors of frog dissection day. Even kids that are interested in science may have a hard time stomaching the stench of formaldehyde (or the scent of chloroform) and the certain knowledge that the creature they’re cutting open was happily hopping around a pond only recently (or may even still be alive). In truth, this antiquated method of exploring science is a bit like reinventing the wheel. Although it is certainly important for a new generation of aspiring scientists to understand the inner workings of biology, there’s really no reason for innocent animals to suffer or die in the name of science anymore. And there’s at least one awesome app that looks to change the way kids approach the act of dissection.
The Frog Dissection app for the iPad is not actually hands-free, but it does allow kids to explore the internal cavities of a frog without ever having to touch one. And it provides even more detail than the average tween would get from their 7th-grade segment on dissection. The format is familiar, with a graphic representation of a dead frog splayed across a blue dissection tray, belly up. But the program offers 3D imaging so that students can see organs and innards from every angle. From there, students will receive step-by-step instructions for dissection through both text and voice over. In short, this virtual lesson is just as good as the real deal. But in all honesty, it gets better.
The program covers not only the dissection process, but it delves into the life cycle of the frog, including biological development and the function and interaction of the organs displayed. And all the information presented comes from credible and verifiable sources, so that parents and educators don’t have to worry about students receiving a complete tutorial. But in addition to the essential lesson presented by the average dissection course, this app also features comparisons of frog anatomy to human counterparts, information on different types of frogs, and even an interactive quiz function to ensure that students understand and retain the material presented.
All in all, this virtual guide to frog dissection gives middle-school-age kids the complete experience of delving into animal biology and bodily systems without having to kill an actual frog. This makes it both eco- and animal-friendly and prevents the trauma that some students suffer when faced with the prospect of being responsible for the death of a fellow-creature, even for the sake of exploration in the name of education.
Not surprisingly, this app has earned a slew of awards and accolades, including PETA’s seal of approval via the Mark Twain Ethical Science Award. And it doesn’t take a public administration degree to see the potential benefits of replacing classroom dissections with this handy app. Institutions that already provide iPads for study purposes will only incur an additional cost of $3.99 per device to download Frog Dissection, so it could spare schools some expense in the long run. And ethical groups are sure to offer their thanks and support to institutions that switch to virtual dissections, providing good press for the district. But many parents and students will also appreciate the arrangement, and that’s always a good thing for schools striving to provide the best possible education to youngsters in their district.
Thanks to Evan Fischer for this guest post. He is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.