Youths learn about nutrition at event
If you want to know about good nutrition, the benefits of exercise and other healthy habits, just ask a Tonganoxie Elementary School kindergartner.
On Wednesday, Jan. 13, about 400 TES kindergarten through second-grade students took a fantastic voyage through the human body to learn about good nutrition, exercise and avoiding tobacco.
“We’re kind of flunking eating and making bad choices in our culture,” Stephanie Hebert, TES nurse, said. “I think little kids are really into this stuff. They were getting the point of it. It’s not so much what the (body) parts are, but it’s about lifestyle choices.”
The Body Venture exhibit was sponsored and created by Child Nutrition and Wellness, Kansas State Department of Education. It is divided into 11 different sections that began with the lunchroom, where students got to meet the Power Panther and learn the importance of eating smart and playing hard. Each student was given a food tag, which represented something on the food pyramid.
Then they entered the brain dome through an ear and learned about making the right choices in nutrition and in exercise, and learned how the brain sends signals through the body before exiting the dome through another ear.
Next, they entered through an open mouth, where they learned about proper hygiene and the dangers of tobacco use. Afterward, they worked their way through the stomach and small intestine, where they learned about the digestive system and how your body absorbs nutrition. From there they entered the blood stream, which took them to the heart, where they learned about how exercise makes the heart stronger and how fatty foods can clog arteries.
In the lungs, the students were told about the dangers of smoking. For this display, volunteers showed students healthy lung tissue and lung tissue from a smoker.
Hebert said the smoker’s lung interested a lot of students.
After the lungs, students were taught about the skeletal and muscular system, then the skin and finally students worked their way out of the body and into a pathway that reviewed everything they had just learned.
While a lot of the information is the same, the presentation was greatly improved.
Every few years the KSDE updates the traveling exhibit once it begins to wear out.
Gone were the cramped tunnels made out of tarp vinyl with few exits of the Body Walk that got too warm for some students. Now the new Body Venture exhibit was covered in an airy, breathable material with plenty of headroom and plenty of exits for students and volunteers. Different facts were also printed inside the walls of the material so even students with wandering attentions could still learn something.
“I thought the other one was impressive, but this one is like ‘whoa,” Hebert said. “And the kids thought it was the coolest thing. They thought they were on a field trip.”
Hebert said the school tries to get the exhibit to come to Tonganoxie every couple of years so new students can experience it.
While this year’s students were younger than in previous years, Hebert and Bill Weatherford, Tonganoxie physician and Body Venture volunteer, said the message sunk in.
“I think they are very perceptive,” Weatherford said. “A lot of them are beginning to see habits that their parents and grandparents have. At that age there is a lot of opportunity to influence them to make healthy behaviors.”
Hebert said the exhibit wouldn’t be possible without the help of Weatherford and the more than 50 volunteers, who devoted their day to set things up, teach and break down the traveling exhibit.