Emptying the Jars with Elliott: Virtual Frog Dissection on the iPad

I suspect that virtually everyone who has seen E.T. remembers the freeing of the frogs scene.  Elliott, drunk by proxy, recognizes the uncanny connection between dissecting frogs and what the evil scientists want to do to E.T., and he daringly tips his jar and sets his frog free. In a gleeful frog liberation revolution, the other kids follow suit and the audience cheers (and my little vegetarian heart rejoices).

I still remember frog dissection day in Junior High—the dead frog splayed out on the black-top lab table, the “I-see-dead-people” chemical smell of the formaldehyde, dread filling my queasy stomach, and the sadistic look on my evil science teacher’s face as he looked on. The fact that I can remember all this in vivid detail (including smell-o-vision) should tell you that it was a traumatic experience.  And, indeed, it was (though I must say the pregnant fish dissection was worse because my lab partner poked the fish’s eye out with her scalpel and then smashed it, but I digress).  Please excuse me whilst I go vomit.

There. I feel better (sort of). Fortunately, an app now exists for all of us who were traumatized by frog dissection day:  Frog Dissection by Emantras, Inc. This $4.99 iPad application allows you to dissect a virtual frog with virtual instruments (formaldehyde smell not included). A little lab notebook on the lower left guides you through the steps. Once you’ve completed your dissection, you can touch the internal organs with your finger and they automagically pop out (ick factor included) and spin before your eyes whilst a description of their function appears alongside.

The developer bills Frog Dissection as an educational tool designed for those who wish “to practice before or instead of an actual dissection.” Experts were consulted to make the app as scientifically accurate as possible, though I’m not qualified to assess whether or not the app achieves that goal. It does, however, illustrate the potential of the iPad for educational use. One can only hope that they will produce a fish dissection app as well . . . and apps for all the other unfortunate creatures swimming in jars in labs across the world [cue Kermit’s Rainbow song].

Download: Frog Dissection by Emantras

Watch a video of the App in use

I am a professor at a small liberal arts college in West Texas where I teach Old Testament and Hebrew. I am also a writer. I have a wonderful husband, two amazing kids, two destructive labradors named Calvin and Hobbes,… Full Bio