PORT RICHEY, FL — A Florida high school science department is making national headlines for doing away with the routine frog dissections that have been the bane of high school science students for generations.

Instead of dissecting preserved dead frogs, Mitchell High School in Port Richey has become the first school in the world to use synthetic frogs for dissection.

SynFrog was developed by Tampa-based company SynDaver, which produces animal and human models for educational and surgical simulation purposes.

The synthetic frogs duplicate the texture and visual qualities of a live female frog.

“SynFrog is a far superior learning tool as it is designed to mimic living tissue,” said SynDaver founder and CEO Dr. Christopher Sakezles. “This makes it more like a live frog than the preserved specimens currently sold to schools for dissection labs. SynFrog not only looks and feels like a real frog, it’s physically safer to dissect than a real preserved frog because it doesn’t contain potentially harmful chemicals like formalin. We commend Pasco County Schools for taking this monumental step to advance science education”

At $150 each, the SynFrog is more expensive than the typical preserved dead frog used by most high schools. But the Pasco County School District believes they’re worth the price tag.

Mitchell High School

“The Pasco County School District is committed to being a leader in innovation and opportunity for students, so we are excited to announce that Mitchell High School is the first in the world to use SynFrogs in science labs, giving our students a learning experience no other students have ever had,” said Pasco County Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning.

The use of the synthetic frogs by the high school has been lauded by animal rights groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which provided $150,000 in funding to produce the synthetic frogs.

Mitchell High School

“In 2018, we approached SynDaver with the idea of making a life-like frog that could be cut into just as students would cut into a real frog,” said Rachelle Owen of PETA. “Well, great minds think alike. SynDaver was already working on this concept, and PETA agreed to become a major funding partner to help the company kick it into high gear.”

“We want to thank PETA for their funding support, which helped with the initial development phase of the product and enabled us to deliver it faster than previously anticipated,” Sakezles said.

Mitchell High School

“PETA has promoted virtual dissection for years, but some teachers still request ‘hands-on’ teaching tools — and that’s where the SynFrog comes in,” said PETA Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala. “It’s safer, more effective and more humane than cutting up dead animals — a practice that’s now destined for the trash bin of archaic education methods.

“This huge technological advancement will spare millions of animals’ lives each year, improve students’ learning and eliminate their exposure to toxic chemicals,” Gala said.

PETA estimates that 3 million frogs are killed annually for high school science departments, contributing to the world’s declining frog population.

Gala said the dissections not only jeopardize the species but also are traumatic to many students. She said PETA hears from countless students every year who are upset at being forced to cut up dead animals.

Mitchell High School Principal Jessica Schultz said the fake frogs are getting a thumbs-up from students. “They are finger deep in frog guts, but it’s all synthetic, so the smell isn’t there, the stigma isn’t there, and they aren’t opting out,” she said.

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