Dissections. Does the word make you cringe? Feel a little sick to your stomach? Fill you with dread? For many reasons dissections can cause concerns for educators, but they are a very important part of a child’s education. Understanding how things work from the inside, is vital to developing a strong understanding of biology, physiology and anatomy. Thankfully there are many solutions available. So save yourself the mess and the stress in your lessons and labs with these options for virtual dissections.
EXPLORING OPTIONS FOR VIRTUAL DISSECTIONS
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As a child I grew up in the country, doing animal rescue, breeding horses, and having a big sister who was a vet assistant (and eventually married a vet). Animals were my life. I entertained the idea of being a vet, a breeder, running a rescue or animal sanctuary. In the end, I enrolled in university into the bachelor of environmental sciences program, specializing in wildlife conservation. I wanted to protect endangered animals and their habitats.
However, two years into the program I was diagnosed with health issues that forced me to make some changes. I was loving my psychology programs, so I stayed in the sciences faculty, but moved over to the psychology department.
Biology for Kids
Now through all of that, the key was that I always worked with animals and had deep passion for biology and animals. Even in psychology, I specialized in the research field, and many of our labs worked with animals. But long before that, I started learning about what was under the skin from our vets, my sister and reading. I wanted to take the best care of my animals that I possibly could, so I was voracious in my search for information and knowledge.
With that came doing dissections, but also working on live animals. I’ve assisted on surgeries and so many medical procedures, it’s too many to count. Learning in such a hands on way gave me a deep appreciation and understanding of anatomy, physiology and biology.
As much as I’ve learned from dissections, I totally get that they aren’t for everyone. Some people struggle with the ethics, others the mess and smell, for others it’s the cost, and sometimes it’s simply a matter of logistics. Thankfully, there are a number of virtual dissection options available. Here are a few that I found.
We love using Outschool. Outschool is a virtual classroom that is kind of like an Air B&B of education. There are teachers from around the world teaching classes on pretty much every subject you can imagine, including dissection. Some of the classes are live, which also allows for a level of interaction, which my kids particularly enjoy. However, be aware that not all classes are live. Make sure you read the descriptions and talk to the teachers if you have questions. Simply search “dissection” to find current offerings on virtual dissections. Or look for any other subject you want to cover.
Last year my kids took a shark course through Next Level and part of the course includes doing a shark dissection. Although you are given the information on how to order one to do your own dissection along with the instructor, you also have the option of just watching her do the dissection in the very educational videos.
This site offers many virtual dissection lessons and labs featuring a number of different dissections. They include worksheets and a quiz for some of their labs, however there are no videos. Reading and photography only. However, it is free.
This is a lending library that specializes in learning options that remove the need for actual animals in dissections and labs. They have so many options, for all levels of education, including books, models, posters, and more. This is US only, so I have no experience with them, but the program was recommended to me by some American homeschoolers.
This program is part of the educational publishing group MacMillian Learning. There is a cost to students, but you can watch a demo lesson here.
Free Printable Dissection
If you are looking for a printable dissection activity pack, STEAM Powered Family has created a printable PDF package that covers dissections of:
- Virtual Frog dissection.
- Virtual Earthworm dissection. See below to get this as a free sample.
- Virtual Crayfish dissection
- Virtual Pig dissection
To check it out I am offering the Earthworm Dissection part of the package for free, simply by joining the STEAM Powered Family mailing list. Join and get regular emails with more educational resources, tips and products.
Your FREE printable will be delivered once you confirm your subscription. Make sure to check your email, including spam folders.
You can purchase the whole package through Teachers Paying Teachers.
There are also many models, puzzles and coloring books that you can use as part of your unit studies. I especially love using these to supplement our lessons.
Build a Model
Another way to learn more about biology without doing dissections is to build models of the various organs and body parts. Here are a few ideas to help you plan your biology lessons.
Enjoy finding the perfect way for your students to learn more about biology with these virtual dissection and biology hands on lesson ideas.