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

Okanagan College, Vernon campus. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Student housing coming to Vernon, Salmon Arm

Province announces $66M for new student beds for Okanagan College campuses

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Blaze started when man’s campfire catches fuel containers on fire

Sicamous will have a new locally-owned option for grabbing a bite on the go as the Snacktastic food trailer opened at the start of March. (Kelly Hesleton/Facebook)
Curbside food trailer gives Sicamous a new dining option

Snacktastic owner Dawn Backs grateful for support from family and community

A B.C. government-run cannabis retail outlet was proposed for a building to be constructed at the Salmon Arm SmartCentres site. (File photo)
Province backs away from plans for Salmon Arm cannabis store

BC Cannabis Store was proposed to be in building to be constructed at shopping centre

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Paramjit Bogarh, connected to the murder of his wife in Vernon 35 years ago, has been relerased on full parole, one year after he was sentenced to five years in prison for accessory after the fact. (Contributed)
Full parole for ex-Okanagan man who helped wife’s alleged killer escape

Paramjit Bogarh pleaded guilty to accessory to murder after helping brother flee Canada

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival, normally held in August, was denied a grant due to COVID. (File photo)
COVID makes some of the 2021 grant decisions for Princeton council

Municipality doles out funds while striving to meet policy

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Most Read