Good news for frogs: Simulations and ecology are replacing dissections in high school bio labs. The North Jersey Record reports:
Much of today’s academic inquiry has moved to sophisticated studies at the cellular and molecular level, far more complicated than simple anatomy. Moreover, in some classrooms, computer simulation has replaced traditional dissection because it offers not only lessons in anatomy but experiments in physiology, too. In addition, the very reason behind dissection — comparative anatomy — has been overshadowed by the much bigger emphasis in today’s high school biology classes on ecology and the environment.
Some students refuse to dissect out of sympathy for animal rights. New Jersey lets students opt out of dissection labs; they can do a virtual lab or just look at plastic models and write a paper.
Some teachers say dissecting teaches more than the alternatives.
“It allows students to feel the delicateness of the tissue and to appreciate the complexity of a living thing,” said Patricia Lord, science adviser for Teaneck’s schools, where high school bio classes used to dissect earthworms, frogs, perch and fetal pigs but now do only one species a year. “They can inflate the animal’s lungs using a pipette to see how lungs work. They can unravel the intestine to see how long it is and how it’s packed in. There’s so much to learn that way, and they’re always amazed.”
While high school students are dissecting less, younger students are doing more.
Teaneck fifth-graders dissect a pig heart when they study the circulatory system. Tenafly seventh-graders dissect frogs. In Alpine, seventh-graders dissect earthworms, crayfish, fish, frogs and chickens.
Via Teachers Magazine’s Web Watch.