Wednesday, April 18, 2012

High School Science - Dissecting a Virtual Squid

My in-laws have arrived in town for a visit, so I'll be slipping away from my computer for the next few days, probably through the weekend, to allow time to be a proper hostess, and enjoy their visit.  Before I log-off though, I want to leave you with a quick review of's virtual dissection program.

Learning about squid over the past couple of days, through craftsplay and easy readers, has been sufficient for my younger children (ages 5-9), but the older children (ages 11-14) clearly needed a more substantial type of lesson.

On numerous occasions in the past, I've considered purchasing mail order dissection kits to supplement biology lessons, like those from Young Scientist.

Distributed through
When I was in middle school, I had an opportunity to dissect a squid during a summer science day camp.  After catching a whiff of formaldehyde in the hallway, I transferred to the computer electronics class, instead.  And, this week, after a few moments of contemplating the image of a rubbery bit of preserved squid sliced open on the kitchen table, I decided to start looking for an alternative this time as well.

Happily, it seems, I must not have been the only would-be biologist sitting in the computer science lab.  And now, thanks to the trickery of technology, a foreboding of formaldehyde or a sensitive soul need not keep the budding biologist from a detailed knowledge of the inner workings of squid, frogs, or even fetal pigs, and I have the certificate to prove it (my six grade self would be so proud).

But in all seriousness, I did spend quite a bit of time researching various virtual dissection options, before settling on as the one that works best for us.  It is a subscription service, that costs $36.00 to $46.00 for a year, depending on whether you choose a CD, downloadable or online option.  Considering that it allows for multiple students to complete (multiple times, if they wish) dissection labs for a starfish, frog, squid, cow eye, fetal pig, as well as a Mendelian pea and fruit fly genetics lessons, complete with section, and unit quizzes, at their own pace (I had to take the 50 question, squid quiz twice before I was happy with my score - but it really helped solidify what had been presented in the dissection activities), over the course of a year, it's not a bad price.

My children, especially my oldest two (ages 13 and 14), were quite taken with the 3-d graphics (you can view a demo - here), and clear depictions of the animals' anatomy, even if they where disappointed with the lack of an earth worm lab. I was thrilled to find easy to follow, in depth, high school level lessons, that take no prep or additional teaching on my part.  I'm free to learn along with the children, instead of trying to stay one step ahead of them.  

As to the missing "goo and guts" element of the sanitized virtual approach, I'm sure a fall hunting, or summer fishing trip with the Man of the House will fill in the gaps.  Anyone for a guest post on "How to Breast a Grouse"?

It's great be a homeschooler.


Cavemomma said...

This is **great***! Thanks so much for posting the information, and sharing your experience with it! I have one kid who would love it, because it is dissection. I have another kids who might agree do it, because it isn't dissecting a real animal. (-:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this review and link. It looks like something we could use.

Karisa said...

Thank you for this! We'll use it next year and it's perfect!
I was dreading ordering dead things to come in the mail.

Donna said...

Wow! Thanks for posting the link to Froguts, It looks awesome! I watched the demo and I love it. We are vegetarians and could never do any dissections on a real animal so this works out great for us!
Thanks again : )

Christy Killoran said...

I remember dissecting a fetal pig in AP Biology - ugh, I had that class right before lunch. This is a cool alternative. Sorry I haven't been here, we have all been so sick.

Mary said...

What a great idea! I too was not thrilled about the prospect of having to do a hands-on dissection. I probably would have skipped a lot of that lesson since my daughter is not interested either. Thanks for the info!