Jenkintown, PA (December 2019)
AAVS congratulates our Animalearn division’s 2019 Humane Educator and Student of the Year recipients! These annual awards are given for contributions to humane science education, instead of harming animals in classrooms. This year’s recipients are a science teacher who appears as a hologram to guide students through remarkable virtual reality dissections and a 7th grader whose science fair project shows why alternatives are better than frog dissections for her school and schools everywhere.
Iowan Science Teacher Recognized as Humane Educator of the Year
Wendy Martin in VictoryXR’s virtual frog dissection
Wendy Martin, a science teacher from Assumption High School in Davenport, Iowa, has been selected as Animalearn’s 2019 Humane Educator of the Year. Martin is being recognized for her contribution to humane science education as the holographic science teacher featured in VictoryXR’s frog, cat, and fetal pig virtual dissection (VR) software. Martin guides students through their dissections as she would in a live classroom.
“Every year I have students who want an alternative to traditional dissection. It’s been a passion of mine to help create a hands-on alternative that is the future of learning, and with virtual reality, it’s finally possible,” Martin explains. “As a teacher, it is exciting to be able to come up with practical and educational tools to help others like myself. I am proud of the innovative ideas that have been built upon while working with VictoryXR. And I am so honored that Animalearn has recognized the value of our VR dissections.”
Martin has been teaching high school and college level classes for over 20 years and is also a local 2006 Jaycee Outstanding Young Educator Awardee. Her master’s degrees from Clemson University in Biology and from Ashford University in Education and Technology give her the background needed to integrate AR (augmented reality) and VR into STEM curriculums.
Martin acts as a consultant to various STEM education projects with VictoryXR, an AR/VR development company. In this role, Wendy writes scripts, acts as the teacher guide in many videos, and aligns the projects to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Martin asserts “In many ways—if not most—virtual reality dissection is superior to the real thing because it’s repeatable and each student can have an individualized experience. As a teacher I appreciate the uniqueness of this experience. Students appreciate the use of technology in their learning. It is just one more method of delivery that can be used to reach multiple learning styles.”
Animalearn works with science educators who want to incorporate humane science methods into their classrooms by providing guidance and access to innovative non-animal resources, which may replace specimen dissections.
“Wendy is a standout science teacher, and it is a true honor to highlight her as our Humane Educator of the Year. She recognizes that technology is a method of learning that students are tuned in to. Traditional dissection labs are a thing of the past and Wendy is demonstrating that AR/VR can provide an optimum learning experiences for science students in today’s world,” said Animalearn Director, Nicole Green.
As a part of her award, Animalearn will donate $1,000 towards humane science education resources to use in her classroom.
California 7th Grader Recognized as Humane Student of the Year
Indigo with her dog, Vincent.
Indigo Prasad, a 7th grader from Mark Day School in San Rafael, California, has been selected as Animalearn’s Humane Student of the Year. The award is given annually to students with an outstanding commitment to furthering humane science education and this year, recognizes Indigo’s actions, motivated by her compassion for frogs used in education.
Indigo, who is 12 and already has aspirations of becoming a doctor, decided to use her science fair project to persuade her peers that dissection is unnecessary to have a quality science education and to opt out of their upcoming dissection assignment.
With her school’s science fair theme of sustainability, Indigo started her project with two goals in mind: to inform students that traditional frog dissection is cruel and unsustainable, and to show that technological alternatives have replaced the need for traditional dissection.
“Our school’s mission statement includes, ‘strive to teach, learn and live in a sustainable way,’ and ‘integrate technology for learning,’ and two of our school’s Pillars of Character are caring and respect,” writes Indigo. “This was the perfect opportunity to follow my school’s mission and pillars of character while doing my science fair project on frog dissection alternatives.”
Indigo hopes to not only enlighten her classmates about the problems with dissection, but also to qualify for the state science fair to share her findings with teachers and students from other schools.
“I was horrified at what I found out in my research. I never realized that thousands of frogs are killed this way for classrooms all over the country,” Indigo recalls. “…[dissection] also teaches students that it is okay to kill and throw out animals when you’re done with them. That is not caring or respectful.”
Animalearn works with concerned students, like Indigo, who do not want to dissect animals in science labs by providing guidance and humane non-animal resources that can be used to replace specimen dissection.
“We are proud to call Indigo our Humane Student of the Year. Her passion and dedication to animals shines bright and I hope that she continues to use her voice to advocate for animals used in science education,” said Director of Animalearn, Nicole Green.
Indigo is very thankful for this award and in an email correspondence to Animalearn she stated, “The award has inspired me to continue my work on frog conservation beyond this science project, with the hopes that I can encourage schools—not only my school, but schools throughout California to replace traditional frog dissection with a more humane option. “
As our Humane Student awardee, Indigo will receive $1,000 towards dissection alternatives for her school.
Animalearn, a division of the American Anti -Vivisection Society, works with educators, students, policy makers and others to achieve quality humane science education without the harmful use of animals. Animalearn’s free loan program, The Science Bank, is the largest lending program in the U.S. and offers humane science products that enable educators to teach and students to learn anatomy, physiology, and psychology lessons without harming animals. For more information visit Animalearn.org.