October 21, 2010 in City

Hands-on anatomy exhibit arrives from West Side center

By The Spokesman-Review
Jesse Tinsley photo

Kindergartners Pierce Hill, right, and Sonya Daniel assemble a model of the human brain Wednesday at Prairie View Elementary, where the Pacific Science Center put up the Blood and Guts display to familiarize kids with the human body.
(Full-size photo)

Traveling show

The Pacific Science Center in Seattle, founded in 1962, features exhibits and programs on science, math, engineering and technology. The privately funded nonprofit has been operating its mobile exhibits, including displays on astronomy, geology, agriculture and space, for nearly 20 years.

The warning to grade-school children entering the Prairie View Elementary gym contained the words “brains,” “skeleton” and “body parts,” but there wasn’t a haunted house.

The items were part of the Pacific Science Center’s Blood and Guts exhibit visiting the north Spokane school. The popular science-on-wheels program that teaches children about human anatomy travels to more than 100 Washington elementary schools and community events annually.

“This is so cool,” said 5-year-old Clayton Kerwin, a kindergartner. “This is so cool we’re learning about this.”

The Spokane elementary school’s gymnasium was filled with hands-on exhibits. The children could piece together a skeleton, measure their peripheral vision, test their balance, take apart the pieces of a brain and learn why they yawn.

“And this is a head bone,” said Clayton, pointing to the back of a skeleton’s skull. When his teacher explained the bones are what are inside of a person’s body, he wasn’t entirely convinced. “OK, but a real skeleton can move without you attached to it,” he said.

While students from different grades checked out the exhibit in the gym, there were breakout sessions in classrooms. Those included Bone Zone – the location and function of bones; Creature Features – a closer look at the skin, teeth and heart rate of a variety of animals; and the Visual Eyes – the science behind vision.

On Wednesday, Sarah Bradshaw – a science-on-wheels teacher – taught one of the fourth-grade classes about the different parts of the eye.

The students stared into a mirror at their pupils while the lights were turned off, then on again.

“My pupil was really big, and when the lights came on, they shrunk,” Mackenna Miller observed.

Bradshaw told the class: “Now stare at the iris, the colored part of the eye,” and the lights were again turned off and back on. “What happened?”

“It looks like the iris is squishing your pupil,” fourth-grader Mike Kutsar said. Bradshaw confirmed, “That’s right.”

Blood and Guts sports 26 activities designed to encourage the understanding of human anatomy.

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