9 July 1998

Virtual Frogs To Revolutionize Biology Lessons

No more blood, guts and formaldehyde, as computer technology promises to do away with the dissecting scalpel in biology lessons forever. Introducing the Virtual Frog - a three dimensional computer model developed by Stanford University's Virtual Creatures project. Rotate it to view from any angle. Push a button to render its skin transparent. Zoom in to view the muscles, or peel them back for a glimpse of the skeleton.

Aimed at squeamish high school students the world over, Virtual Creatures is the brainchild of the Stanford University Medical Media and Information Technologies Group (SUMMIT), originally founded to create computer-based teaching tools for students and doctors. The program made its debut in a demonstration at the July 9 Virtual Reality in Education and Training conference in London.

"We are visual creatures," says research investigator Ramani Pichumani. "The goal of the project is to take advantage of our visual nature. We learn better when we are visually engaged."

Ultimately, SUMMIT plans to build an entire menagerie of similar creatures - including ones with 'living" circulation, respiration and limb movement - so that students can study a full range of vertebrates. Says Pichumani: "With a virtual reality model, you don't have to worry about real-life constraints."

GoGo Further: Virtual Creatures SUMMIT

Picture and animated gif � SUMMIT, Stanford