Virtual Dissection

My middle school was set up in long strips of classrooms called “wings.” Each wing was dedicated to a certain course of study. There was the math wing, the language arts wing, biological sciences, physical sciences, and so on. Some services like special ed, speech, and physical therapy were scattered to wherever there was room. The wings had the same general structures: two rows of classes, lockers lining the central hall, and a set of restrooms. The cafeteria, office, and gym were all located at one end of campus and the library, arts, and drama were straight down the middle. There were no halls connecting the various wings. Trips outside were required even in the worst weather to get from one class to another.

The district I attended started middle school with the seventh grade, and it was that year when it first happened. I opened the door to the biological sciences building and got smacked in the face with a wall of stench that made Skunk a new designer fragrance to be desired by all. A vulture’s dinner would have smelled rather pleasant by comparison. The first time I was dropped back a few steps by that smell, I wasn’t sure what it was, but after that, there was no question: Time to dissect some manner of dead critter. Worms, fetal pig, frogs … they were all fair game over the next few years.

Now, fortunately, there’s a less smelly way to get the job done: Virtual Dissections.

With a virtual dissection, there’s no need to handle formaldehyde-drenched corpses. The dissection happens online. In the 2002 version of the one linked from the above website, the site walks students through where to snip and then gives students an opportunity to follow those directions with mouse clicks. It continues on this fashion showing the frog anatomy. Labels take care of the guesswork.

This might be helpful for kids who are homeschooled, those who are squeamish about dealing with actual dead frogs, or those who get sick off the formaldehyde fumes.

Virtual dissections can lead to happier students … and happier frogs.

Yamanaka Tamaki creative commons 2006 frog

(c) 2006 Yamanaka Tamaki // Retrieved from Flickr unaltered under Creative Commons

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