Students at Marion and Hillsboro Elementary Schools are more likely to empathize with their food these days after spending Thursday walking through an array of giant human organ models..
And they are more likely to have sympathy for different parts of their body.
“I liked the stomach,” Marion third grader Koty White said.
“Because it was disgusting,” he declared with a grin.
After volunteers spent Wednesday afternoon setting up the course in Marion Elementary School gymnasium, the kids spent Thursday traversing the body, discovering the functions of the mouth, stomach, small intestine, heart, lungs, bones, muscles, skin, and the brain, in larger-than-life fashion.
Students said it was something they wouldn’t forget.
“We got to feel real muscles,” Sara Groening said. “The pink one was hard and the white one was gross.”
“I think I saw on the package of the pink one it said, ‘replica of a muscle,’” replied classmate Sophia Dye.
“Yeah,” Sara said, “and I think the white one was the fat.”
Another exercise students excitedly recalled was one in which they rubbed a special lotion on their hands, which represented germs, and scrubbed it away to show how germs can be easy to transmit.
Other students liked seeing the contrast between a healthy lung and a lung of a chronic smoker, as well as the damaging potential of secondhand smoke.
“I learned not to let people smoke around me,” second grader Molly Henry said.
Students also remembered the segment pertaining to portioning and nutrition, called “My Plate.” It showed nutritionist-recommended portions of fruits, grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy that they should be having with each meal.
Another student said seeing how much sugar was in a candy bar would make her reconsider it as a treat.
Members of Marion High School’s Key Club pitched into the efforts, staffing the stations within the exhibit, reading to and interacting with the younger kids as they came through.
Hillsboro elementary principal Evan Yoder expressed appreciation to USD 408 for their efforts putting it on, saying it would have a lasting effect on students. It turns out he had proof for his assertion.
“I took some kids from our high school over, and one of them said ‘I remember doing this,’” Yoder said. “She’s a senior, so it must have been in the mid-2000s, and she still remembered doing it and thought it was neat possibly 10 to 12 years later.”
Yoder said the scale and anticipation of the event may help preserve it in the memory of students for years to come.
“If we can change up sometimes by doing different things, that may be something that sticks, like yesterday, in their memories,” he said. “All these little things we do to teach kids how to be healthy eat nutritiously go hand-in-hand with what we’re trying to do out here. It makes it a better planet to live on.”