Dissecting a frog... digitally

The odour of preservative chemicals, the first feel of a dead frog, the initial incision... One need not be nervous about these things anymore. For you are into the world of e-dissection and virtual frogs.

A Thiruvananthapuram-based software development company, Learnware, has developed a programme for `digital frog dissection'. A programme for those who -- for a variety of reasons -- do not wish to sharpen their scalpel skills on an actual dead frog.

The `Digital Frog Dissection' CD is interactive in nature and integrates descriptive notes and animations. The CD takes the student through the external anatomy of a frog, the skin, its muscle system, the circulatory system, the internal organs, the digestive system, respiratory system, the urino-genital system, the nervous and the skeletel systems.

It is by using the mouse that the student is expected to `cut' the `frog' -- using simulated scalpels and animated scissors. Each step of the dissection process is explained in text format, which opens up as a dialogue box of sorts inside the animation window. A dotted line shows the student where to make the incision.

Dissecting a frog... digitally

After each incision, that portion of the frog `opens up' to reveal the organs and the systems within. Again, using the mouse, the student has to identify each organ and `label' them. According to Jijo Joseph, founder of Learnware, the main advantage of using a software programme for dissection is that it provides you with unlimited practice sessions.

``We have tried to make the pictures as realistic as possible. Moreover, the `scalpel' and `scissors' that appear on the screen make the e-dissection look closer to reality. The student can attain perfection through repeated practice and he or she need not bother about making mistakes or messing things up,'' says Mr. Joseph.

The CD is not being offered as a total substitute for actual dissection, but rather as a `learning aid', which can supplement with sufficient accuracy, the actual learning process of a student of science.

By Mahadevan G

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