Friday, February 29, 2008

Poop on Science Night

There’s no better place to talk poo than an elementary school cafeteria.

Poop and the cafeteria are made for each other.

Where else will you get hundreds of little poop manufacturers right there on the factory floor?

We’re talking poop, here. Not feces. Not bowel movements.


The stuff we all make but don’t want to talk about.

Susannah Bishop gives Barrett kids and their families the "Scoop on Poop" Thursday night during Barrett's Science Night. (Click to enlarge the image.)

Funny and disgusting both. Actually, funny because it’s disgusting.

Science-by-van Coordinator Susannah Bishop and her trusty poop-lab assistant Brandi Tyner from the Richmond-based Science Museum of Virginia understand.

Like the pros they are, they talk the language of poo to the grammar school set.

“Droppin’ the kids at the pool.”

“Takin’ the Browns to the Superbowl.”

In 30 minutes during K.W. Barrett Elementary’s Science Night, they “digested” a bowl of hot dog, corn, green bean and "red velvet twinkie." From mouth to anus, poop in 30 minutes.

To the bowl/mouth of food was added “saliva." (Eeeeeewwwww!)

(They "didn’t have much time” to collect all that bottled saliva while driving the van from Richmond.)

The food was masticated with potato mashers then poured through the esophagus--let's talk peristalsis--into the ziploc bag/stomach.

Ms. Bishop talks about poop production. Bowls in the foreground were used as mouth and intestines. Bottles were filled with different "bodily fluids." (Click to enlarge the image.)

If it’s rejected, it’s vomit. If it makes gas that can’t escape little-by-little, it’s a burp. (Pause here for a burping contest.)

Add some “stomach acid” and shake it around. Pour it into the small intestine and sponge out the nutrients (Eeeeeewwwwwwwww!).

(“You’ve got 18 feet of small intestine, right here. It’s all smushed in.”)

Squeeze that sponge-filled-with-nutrients into the blood stream/bucket.

And on to the large intestine, also called the colon. Time to sponge out the water (EEEEeeeeewwwwwwww!).

(If our bodies didn’t sponge out the water, we’d do nothing but drink all day.)

Then the poop pauses in the rectum, "What we like to call the poop waiting room....It’s a little bag. It’s where the poop hangs out until you’ve got enough.”

Then finally the anus passes the unwanted material through a cut in the corner of the ziplock bag.

And remember kids: “Your poo’s going to tell you how healthy you’re eating.” If it’s hard and sinks, too many sweets and too much fat. If it’s full of fiber, it floats. “Now you’ve got the scoop on poop. Make ‘em float.”

For the record, the adults laughed, too.

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Excellent (and fun) way to teach young children about their digestive system!!
Doris Smith
Fellow Science Educator

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