Dissection day is an occasion that is highly anticipated by many biology students and creates feelings of distress in others. For students whose stomachs are too queasy to perform actual dissections and schools that cannot afford actual dissection equipment, virtual dissections and dissection kits provide an alternate way for students to learn the same skills. Students can virtually dissect everything from a traditional frog to a cat or a human eye.
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Dissecting frogs is the most common type of dissection in biology classes. Virtual dissections allow students who are not comfortable dissecting a real frog an opportunity to learn the same skills. Net Frog, a program by the University of Virginia's School of Education, provides students with videos and models of a frog dissection, along with the opportunity to try the dissection on their own. Through its Virtual Labs program, educational publisher McGraw-Hill offers its own virtual frog dissection, which includes pictures of each step of the dissection, before students complete it on their own.
Virtual Animal Dissections
Animals other than frogs can be dissected online. The "Salmon Dissection Game" allows students to dissect a salmon, guiding students through the process by explaining what tools to use at which point and where to place removed items. Penn State University offers a virtual cat dissection. Students cannot dissect the cat themselves, but can view graphic step-by-step pictures of the process. Whitman College takes students through a virtual fetal pig dissection.
Other Virtual Dissections
For those not so keen on dissecting an animal, the process can be done with other objects. Science Kids (sciencekids.co.nz) allows students to dissect a flower as a way of learning all of its parts. KidWings (kidwings.com) offers a virtual owl pellet dissection where students can discover bones and other remnants of what the owl ate.
Computer Dissection Programs
Froguts (dissect.froguts.com) is a computer dissection program that schools and individual students can subscribe to. As of 2011, the cost of a subscription was £195 for schools and £19 for individual students. With a subscription, users receive a CD with programs to dissect a variety of items, including frogs, starfish, cow eyes, owl pellets, squid, fetal pigs and peas. This program can provide the dissection experience for students without the cost of purchasing lab equipment and maintaining a lab.
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