Dissecting frogs has long been a rite of passage for many high school biology students. The task is often met with mixed emotions. For ethical reasons, some students aren’t eager to dissect an animal that was once living. Educators. though, believe dissection is an unparalleled teaching tool. A good resolution: synthetic frogs for dissection in classrooms.
Through dissections, students are able to see various organ systems they study in a hands-on demonstration. Frogs are chosen as a subject as they serve as good examples of a complex organism.
According to Edu-lab, “The presence and position of the organs found in a frog are similar enough to a person to be able to provide insights into the internal workings of the human body.”
While it may be an effective learning tool, many students and animal advocacy groups have regarded the practice of dissection as inhumane or unethical. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) estimates over three million frogs are dissected in the US each year.
Now, a company called SynDaver has given students an opportunity to dissect and learn about the anatomy of a frog through synthetic frogs. The company has been in the business of creating human and animal cadavers for educational dissection purposes for approximately 15 years. The cadavers are crafted with patented materials that simulate real tissues and organs, giving students a realistic experience. Medical students and veterinary students have used synthetic cadavers for education, simulation and training.
In 2018, PETA approached SynDaver and offered to be a funding partner in the development of what is now known as the SynFrog.
SynFrogs were recently used for the first time by high school students in Pasco County, Florida. The synthetic frog dissection was met with great enthusiasm from students and school administration. Kurt Browning, Pasco County Superintendent of Schools, told WFTS, Tampa Bay, “The Pasco County School District is committed to being a leader in innovation and opportunity for students, so we are excited to announce that Mitchell High School is the first in the world to use SynFrogs in science labs, giving our students a learning experience no other students have ever had.”
SynDaver and Peta hope SynFrogs will become widely used throughout the US. The frogs cost about $150 each, are re-usable and chemical-free.