A group of Kelowna students are advocating for a more humane approach to biology classes. (Pixabay)

A group of Kelowna students are advocating for a more humane approach to biology classes. (Pixabay)

Kelowna students advocate for non-animal dissections in biology class

The group wants a more humane approach to biology class

A group of Grade 9 students from Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Secondary are advocating for a humane change in biology class.

Erin Work, Lexie Pfenning, Annabelle Lee, Lucia Nutley and Caitlin Mahony want their school — and the entire Central Okanagan School District — to phase out physical animal dissections and switch over to virtual dissections instead.

They argue that using technology to understand biology has many positive impacts, including students avoiding trauma when it’s time to cut open an animal, as well as making it more inclusive for students, who for religious or cultural reasons may not be able to participate in dissection, among others.

“It’s actually been proven that 88 per cent of students learn better using alternatives over actual animal dissections,” Pfenning said. “These alternatives have been classroom-tested to give the same, and in many cases a better level, of education. It’s cost-effective, it’s ethical… it reduces our environmental footprint.”

The group said they have all been passionate about animal rights for a long time but they saw an opportunity to act through the competition Sustainable Development Challenge.

The group, called Our Voice for Change, first reached out to the BC SPCA to help them achieve their goal. The non-profit then helped them connect with the Society for Humane Science, a charity that works to “achieve better science without animals”. The charity’s founder and CEO Elisabeth Ormandy said this means helping students, schools and school districts access alternative resources.

Ormandy said there are various tools that can help teach biology, including apps for tablets that enable students to “build” an animal, as well as other apps divided into body systems that enable students to “dissect” a specimen, as well as virtual reality programs.

“There are other tools that aren’t as tech-involved. Clay modelling is extremely good for education where you have a plastic skeleton and you can put in the animal’s internal organs yourself. There are some paper kits as well, where you cut out organs and ‘build’ the animal,” she said.

Ormandy and Our Voice for Change are now working together to form a pitch for the competition, hoping the group will win a grant, which can help them get the project off the ground and operational in their school to begin.

But the group said even if they don’t win the competition, they want to push forward with their project and hope that the entire school district takes it on.

“We’ve gotten quite a positive response, but of course there are those who are hesitant or are against the use of alternatives but quite often after we’ve explained the details of it and the pros and cons, they’re very open-minded,” Lee said.

Our Voice for Change will be presenting their project pitch on Feb. 24.

READ: Pharmacies can help with COVID-19 vaccines, B.C. Liberals say


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Students

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Fortunato family received the Bill Neilson Volunteer of the Year Award for their efforts with the Summerland Skating Club. (Contributed)
Summerland Skating Club members recognized for efforts

Three awards presented to members of Summerland club

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

Mike Boersma and Adrienne Betts of Granny’s Cafe, at left, present Janet Peake of the Summerland Food Bank and Resource Centre, with a cheque for $1,310 from a recent fundraising event. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Cafe raises more than $1,300 for Summerland Food Bank

Money raised during one-day fundraiser in early February

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Armstrong’s Royal York Golf Course

Most Read