Archive for Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Body Walk thrills students

March 23, 2005

At the end of a long hallway sat Shadoe Barton.

The Tonganoxie High School student held a sign that read "small intestine," indicating that the second-graders were midway through a larger-than-life digestive tract.

Barton was one of several dozen volunteers last Wednesday who manned "Body Walk," a science display that teaches children about the importance of taking care of their bodies.

From the mouth, to the stomach, to the bones and skin, children walked through a series of tents and tunnels, taking in the sights, and at each station, hearing a mini lesson about health.

Tonganoxie Elementary School's nurse, Stephanie Hebert, said the display was popular with the children.

"The first-graders have just been beside themselves," Hebert said. "I think they really, really like the gross mouth," Hebert said of the display that gave children the opportunity to brush pretend cavities away.

In the lung station, the children saw lungs damaged by smoking, and in the bone station, they held real bones.

"Anything that has the gross-out factor, they like," Hebert said.

Judy Salyer brought Body Walk to Tonganoxie on Tuesday night.

Salyer works for the Kansas Department of Education, which purchased the innovative science display three years ago.

During the school year, Body Walk is constantly on the road. Salyer's in charge of the display for two weeks a month. That means she drives a truck, helps unload and put it together, helps run the show, packs it up and heads on to the next town.

"I'm on my way to Holton when I finish here," Salyer said. "It's quite a little job."

And, the project has proved to be quite popular.

"We're already getting requests for the next school year," said Salyer, who is a retired speech therapist. "It fills up quickly."

Salyer's motto, "Eat smart and play hard," says it all.

"The whole purpose is to encourage good nutrition and physical activity," Salyer said about the Body Walk.

"Because unfortunately these days, a lot of our kids are spending more time with video games than outside playing and running. And we don't change our eating habits. We still eat high fat, high sugar foods, and so the children of today are becoming obese."

Students seemed impressed with Body Walk.

Here's what fourth-grader Jeff Neal wrote after touring the exhibit:

"I learned that your body is 60 percent water. I liked the mouth, because we got to use big toothbrushes. I also liked the brain because we sat on soft cushions and there was lights beeping like every two seconds. I learned that you need eight cups of water! You have to have three cups of milk or milk, yogurt and cheese. I learned that if you don't smoke your lungs will be pink. If you smoke your lungs will be black and a brownish color. Your small intestine is 20 feet long! It's all squished up so you're not that tall. You have 206 bones in your skeleton."

Another fourth-grader, Michaela Edwards, highly recommends going through the Body Walk. Here's what she had to say, "It's a great way to learn in a fun way. So if your school gets to do this you should know that it's fun. And you get to learn all about the body."

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