The Body Venture begins in the Lunchroom, where children find out what kind of food they will be on their journey through the body.
The best way to know what happens to the food you eat is jump right in and follow it through the human body.
That?s the theory behind Body Venture, a hands-on learning exhibit sponsored by the Kansas Department of Educa?tion.
Last Thursday, Body Venture ingested about 240 Marion students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
?We are an educational program that allows kids to have a hands-on learning experience about eating properly and getting physical activity,? said Kathy Thompson, who coordinates the program?s annual tour of 90 to 100 Kansas schools.
She personally travels with the exhibit one week each month. The Body Venture is an upgraded version of the Body Walk, which came through Marion County two years ago.
?The learning piece is very similar, but the graphics on all of the stations are updated and are much more specific,? Thompson said. ?It really gives an idea what muscle tissue looks like, and what skin tissue looks like. It?s really more graphic and much more enjoyable for them.?
Each five-minute station within the ?body? has a hands-on learning activity to go with it.
?Hopefully, that helps the kids remember the message,? she said.
Thompson knows the stations through the exhibit by heart.
?It begins in the Body Venture lunch room, where the kids are given a card indicating what kind of food they?re going to be as they travel through the body,? she began. ?It indicates which food group they are in and how much of that food they should have during the day.
?Then they go to the brain and learn about brain impulses and how that controls the whole body?and how important it is to eat breakfast so they can jump-start their day.
?Then they go to the mouth, where they learn about dental health and calcium to keep their teeth strong and about staying away from tobacco products.
?Then they go to the stomach, where they begin to be digested, and they learn about how some foods fit into more than one category.
?Then they go into the small intestine, where they are absorbed into the villi. They learn it?s important to drink plenty of water, they learn that physical exercise will increase their ability to digest food.
?Once they?re absorbed into the blood stream, they travel to the heart and learn about heart health and making your heart work hard.
?Then they go to the lung, and again we cover the tobacco issues?stay away from tobacco. They have a little activity there where they use a tiny sipper straw, hold their nose and breathe through it to see what it might be like to have lung disease.
In the ?Pathway to Life? children review what they?ve learned about good health during their trip through the exhibit.
?Then they go to the bone? and we again do the calcium issues and how important it is to take in enough calcium?three servings a day?so that their bones will be healthy.
?They go then to the muscles, where the have a Dyna-Band that they stretch and watch how their muscles work.
?The muscle skin is next and they learn about protecting their skin by using sun screen and Bandaids, and helmets and knee and elbow pads when they?re active.
?The last station is the ?Pathway to Life,? which reviews everything they?ve done in the exhibit.?
Thompson said the response of students across the state is gratifying.
?The kids, they love it,? she said. ?I remember comments like, ?That?s really cool.? One child asked me if he could have (the exhibit) for his birthday party. The kids are really excited.?
Schools apply to be included on the Body Venture tour. Kristen Garman, USD 408 nurse, took the lead in that process.
?The state only has one Body Venture, so it needs to cover the whole state of Kansas,? Garman said. ?So in the spring, they always send a letter out if you would be interested. Then we kind of throw our name in a pool and they notify you if you?ve been chosen or not.
?We feel lucky to have it at our school.?
Key to the success of the exhibit are local volunteers, according to Thompson.
?We are totally reliant on volunteers from each of the schools to do our set up, do our presentations and stations, and then come back and help pack the exhibit back in the truck.?
Thompson said each school gets learning materials to use with students before and after the exhibit comes through.
In the mouth, the children learn about dental health and the importance of calcium to keep their teeth strong
Children enter the brain to discover how its impulses control the rest of the body.
?The real message we?re trying to get across is the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) motto, ?Eat Smart, Play Hard,?? Thompson said. ?So the kids know portion control, to eat the right amount, and not to super-size.
?They also know to get out and not just sit in front of the computer or the video screen and have an hour?s worth of activity every day?and to make that a lifestyle so we don?t have all the issues with health problems that are weight-related in the future.?