Will Virtual Frog Software Make Traditional Dissections Obsolete?

Animal rights activists want schools to ditch preserved frog dissections in favor of computer software simulators.

Get your virtual scalpels ready! Frog dissection has long been a mainstay of high school biology classes, but slicing into real amphibians could become a thing of the past. A new push by animal rights activists called "Race to Stop Dissections" hopes to get schools to adopt anatomy software that lets students dissect digital frogs instead.

Animal Welfare Institute and Save the Frogs! say ditching preserved frog dissection will help with amphibian conservation efforts. Cathy Liss, president of AWI told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that switching to computer software, like the aptly named Digital Frog 2.5, "is more humane, more effective, environmentally friendly, cost-effective and does not teach students to rationalize the unjustified killing of animals."

But do students actually learn as much if they can't hold the frog and touch it? In 2008 the National Science Teachers Association approved the use of virtual animal dissection software and many veterinary and medical schools are making the switch. A George Mason University study also found that students taught with Digital Frog 2.5 learned anatomy and physiology faster and more effectively than students taught with traditional preserved frogs. Save the Frogs! founder Dr. Kerry Kriger notes that he has "a doctorate in environmental science and I've never dissected a frog in my life." He says the virtual experience is actually preferable because if a student accidentally snips something she shouldn't have in a real-life dissection, the project is wrecked. In comparison, a student can dissect a virtual frog over and over and just undo any mistakes with the click of a mouse.

The move to a virtual experience would certainly be welcome for students who find the experience of cutting into an animal inhumane or disgusting—I remember my freshman year lab partner fainting while we worked on our frog. Dissections are also environmentally questionable since the frogs are preserved in formaldehyde, and students often touch these chemical coated frogs with their bare hands. But what may really persuade schools to move to a virtual experience is that the software is a lot cheaper than buying the traditional frog kits.

Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, California has become the first school in the nation to make the switch to a completely virtual frog dissection experience. Principal Kevin Stipp says the chance to save some money is the main reason he agreed to move to virtual frogs. The school normally spends almost $7,000 on 30 frog kits that have to be shared between 1,225 biology students over a five year period. In comparison a Digital Frog 2.5 license only costs $884—which Rancho Verde is getting for free for making the switch, courtesy of the Animal Welfare Institute—and every student can dissect her own frog online.

The two animal rights organizations say they'll buy the virtual dissection software licenses for the first 25 schools that agree to abandon preserved frog dissections for the next five years. They hope all schools make the virtual switch by 2014.

photo via Wikimedia Commons


This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.

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Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

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