App Title: Frog Dissection
Developer Website: Emantras
iTunes Link: Click Here
Program Functionality: B
Overall Educational Value: C+
Explanation: A great first attempt at a virtual lab on the iPad. The app functions flawlessly as a simple dissection simulator, but lacks a few features that would make this app reign supreme and set the bar for all other iPad science lab apps in the future.
Platform: iPad ONLY
Description / Recommendation:
A common activity for biology students to do is to dissect a frog. However, this can be smelling, gross, and expensive for schools. If you are an animal rights person, this could be considered cruel. While there are many virtual dissection programs out there (like Froguts and The Digital Frog 2.5), this is the first attempt at one for the iPad. Before the iPad's release, I wrote an article describing the possibly of the iPad acting as a virtual science lab.
Frog Dissection is a very simple, easy to use app for the iPad. In fact, my three year old son surprised me by figuring out how to dissect the frog on his own using this app. The app is very intuitive to use without reading the directions. However, it does display step by step what to do as well. The app indicates where to place the pins, draw lines, and make cuts so there is no possibility of messing up the frog, unlike in a real wet lab.
After placing pins, making marks with a marker, cutting with a scalpel and scissors, and using forceps, you quickly get to see the frog's guts. A few of the guts (heart, lungs, liver, small intestines, and stomach) are labeled with blue dots, indicating you can touch those in order to learn more about that particular organ. When you touch the organ it pops up a 3D model of the organ that can be turned left and right to see the general shape of the organ. It also includes a written description of the organ and its function.
Overall I am satisfied with this app as a first attempt. It shows a lot of potential. I am thus willing to recommend this app, but only with the understanding that it is very simple and limited functionality. That being said, everything it does, the app does quite well. I wish the app had more functionality and features, but I do not think this should affect the rating of this app since it functions exactly as advertised. That being said, I think the $4.99 price tag is a little bit too much for what you get with this app. However, with the added features I mention below, even a price tag of $9.99 would be a bargain.
The app is very simple and easy to use, but is lacking a few key features that would make this a better app. I have outlined a few of the features I would like to see added to this app to make it a true dissection substitute. As it currently stands, this app seems overly simplistic to truly accomplish all of the objectives of a dissection. The additional features I would like to see are:
- The ability to remove organs from the chest cavity one at a time
- The ability to dissect a few of the organs to gain a look inside the organs, especially the eye, heart, and lungs
- The ability to dissect one of the legs to gain exposure to the muscles, veins, nerves, and bones
- Pictures of an actual frog and/or organs along side the virtual organs as a comparison
- Build-in comparison between the frog and human organs, including pictures (as this is generally one of the main objectives to dissecting a frog)
- Various animations, including showing the flow of blood into and out of the heart
- The ability to turn the organs in multiple directions in the 3D mode, not just left and right
- The ability to zoom in and out
- Include more organs, especially the reproductive organs
- Include audio instructions or descriptions
The above mentioned items would make this app become an exceptional value in my mind. It would have nearly every feature a biology teacher would hope for in a frog dissection simulator. However, to make this app worth a $9.99 price tage, the developers need one more feature which would be a little bit more difficult to develop, but would make this app a definite frog dissection replacement.
All of the above mentioned functionality could be used as a tutorial on how to successfully complete a frog dissection. What would put this app over the top would be a dissection game where the students would need to remember where to make the cuts, place pins, etc. THEN, once they have the chest cavity opened, they would need to identify the various organs from memory in a matching game activity. This game feature would truly make this app shine and set the precedent for future science simulator apps for the iPad.
Classroom Use Examples / Ideas:
As is, the Frog Dissection app is a very simple dissection demonstration and/or tutorial. I do not think it could be a true dissection replacement because of the lack of features I mentioned as possible improvements, however, it could easily be used to catch students up if they opted out of the real wet lab or were absent the day of the actual lab. This app could also be used as a very quick review for the steps to dissect a frog.
Click images to see full-size screenshots of Frog Dissection in action.
* This review was created by Trevor McGarrah for IEAR.org and is cross-posted on his personal blog with permission.