Biology class is getting a little more humane at one high school in Florida, where high school students have started dissecting realistic man-made frogs instead of the real animals. Nearly 100 synthetic frogs were dissected last week by students at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida, according to the company that developed them, SynDaver.
The company said the high school is the first in the world to try out the new technology, but it hopes to spread them nationwide — making dead, formaldehyde-ridden frogs a thing of the past. The frogs can be used for education, surgical simulation, and medical device testing, SynDaver said.
"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," said Kurt Browning, the Pasco County superintendent of schools.
The synthetic frogs are designed to mimic both the visual and textural elements of a live female frog. They feature a skeleton, muscles, skin, organs and even a reproductive system with eggs. The synthetic tissues are made out of water, fibers and salts.
"This makes it more like a live frog than the preserved specimens currently sold to schools for dissection labs," said Dr. Christopher Sakezles, founder and CEO of SynDaver. "SynFrog not only looks and feels like a real frog, it's physically safer to dissect than a real preserved frog because it doesn't contain potentially harmful chemicals like formalin."
Chemically preserved frogs can be dangerous, according to PETA, and many students are opposed to working with the animals for ethical and moral reasons. In addition, the synthetic frogs can be reused again and again, unlike the frogs that are killed every year for dissection.
"We're proud to have found a partner in SynDaver to bring this revolutionary new educational tool to life, replacing the outdated use of once-living frogs forever," said Shalin G. Gala, PETA's vice president of International Laboratory Methods. PETA estimates that millions of frogs are killed each year due to school dissections. "We look forward to schools around the world adopting this state-of-the-art technology that will not only save millions of frogs, but is a far more effective and safer teaching tool."