When Science makes you sick

16 Feb

Yesterday, while tutoring, I had flashbacks to the nausea I experienced during lab dissections in grade 8. The girl that I tutor whipped out her iphone and flashed me a photo of her latest dissection: an unsegmented worm. Even though I’m not the student, I did learn one thing during tutoring last night – my gag reflex still works.

I don’t know why I’m so squeemish. I used view operations on TV as a personal challenge. I would sit for as long as possible without flipping the channel and managed to make it through some very memorable operations. Thanks to my stubbornness I can still picture the process of breast implants (looks painful), a nose job (not too bad if you’re good at chiselling), and a face lift (never in my life will I have this done!). Even though I have stoicly sat through many operations, now I tend to feel faint when I see the littlest blood (yes, I have become that person). Because of my new found discomfort, I can fully sympathize with students who can’t stomach a real lab dissection. Also, my love for my dog makes it difficult for me to think about cutting into a once-living animal. It is a little harder to feel sympathy for a parasitic unsegmented worm, but I try anyway.

Well, thank you, Internet, for once again solving this moral, ethical and digestive dilema. McDougal Littell Biology 2010 is a great resource for students to do virtual labs and lab dissections without having to spend the time in a lab or cut into an animal. This could be given as an alternative to a real dissection or a lab could be given as extra credit or a homework assignment.

Classzone’s Virtual Dissections allows students to dissect a frog, cat, pig, sheep brain, cow’s eye, earthworm, squid, crayfish or owl pellet all without the nausea or emotions involved in a live lab. I don’t feel that the experience is diminished by doing such an activity online since I did most of my labs in high school biology on the computer and went on to get a Biology degree. A lab like this is a good alternative to the real thing.

Classzone also has other Virtual Labs such as testing antibacterial agents, insects and crime scene analysis, gel electrophoresis, and breeding mutations in fruit flies (and this can be done without a month old banana rotting away in a student’s locker!). In total there are 14 different labs to choose from.

To see more of what this site can offer (eg simulations, animations, interactive review, activities, quizzes, tests, links and resource centres), click here.

Maybe this post has sparked the inner scientist in you. Maybe you’ve always wondered about the digestive system of an earthworm. Maybe you’re interested in doing a lab dissection. And that would be no problem. Virtually cut away! Learn and discover! After all, it’s not like you’re hurting anyone.

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