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You're so gross!

Exhibit seeks to teach kids science behind bodily functions

By Peggy Mihelich

Pumping soda pop into this cartoon character releases a giant burp.



-- Atlanta, Georgia
Fernbank Museum of Natural History: May 28, 2005 -- August 21, 2005.
-- Charlotte, North Carolina
Discovery Place: May 28, 2005 -- September 5, 2005.
-- Denver, Colorado
Denver Museum of Nature Science: October 7, 2005 -- January 1, 2006.
-- Calgary, Alberta Canada
Calgary Science Center: January 21, 2006 -- April 30, 2006.
-- Sudbury, Ontario Canada Science North: March 4, 2006 -- September 3, 2006.
-- Burlington, Vermont
Echo @ Leahy Center: May 26, 2006 -- September 24, 2006.
-- Rochester, New York
Strong Museum: September 30, 2006 -- January 1, 2007.
-- Seattle, Washington
Pacific Science Center: January 27, 2007 -- May 6, 2007.
-- Tampa, Florida
Museum of Science and Industry: May 26, 2007 -- September 4, 2007.

Source: Advanced Animations


Natural History Museums
Atlanta (Georgia)

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Did you know the human body produces enough mucus each day to fill a quart-size mayonnaise jar? Yuck!

Or at any one time, more than 100 million micro-creatures live in your mouth? Eeew!

Not exactly polite conversation but exactly the point of "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body," the children's science exhibit that's on a three-year tour of the United States and Canada. You can see it through August 21 at Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History and at Discovery Place in Charlotte, North Carolina, through September 5.

"When you are in the nose it's like when you sneeze," remarked Martin Rymer, 10, from Atlanta, after taking a walk through the "Tour du Nose" -- a larger-than-life schnoz where kids can learn how our nasal passages act as an air filter and mucus machine.

The hands-on exhibit is a cross between an arcade and indoor jungle gym. It features 17 interactive stations that let kids spin, shoot, pump, climb, squeeze and smell the gross things the human body does.

Fernbank is Grossology's seventh stop on a 15-city tour that runs through 2007. Touring separately is its sister exhibit, "Grossology: The Science of Creatures Gross and Disgusting," where students can get an eye-opening perspective on the animal kingdom.

Zits, blisters and scabs

It's a mob scene at the "Skin Climbing Wall" -- a miniature rock climbing wall -- except on this one warts, hairs and wounds act as hand- and footholds.

"I thought it was really cool. And I learned what blisters were," said Hannah Kim, 9, of Atlanta.

Science and health factoids provide enough information to make everyone's skin crawl.

For example, about 10 billion tiny scales of dead skin rub off your body every day. In a lifetime, you could fill eight 5-pound flour bags.

The exhibit, produced by Advanced Exhibits (a division of Advanced Animations), was inspired by the concept of Grossology -- the gross things the human body does to keep healthy.

Grossology is the brainchild of schoolteacher turned children's author Sylvia Branzei. Branzei's idea -- disguise teaching science through gross things.

Her popular books "Grossology," "Grossology: Animal Grossology," "Grossology Begins at Home" and "Hands On Grossology" speak to kids on their level.

"This is science in disguise ... if we teach students in their own words, they'll understand better and actually learn something," Branzei has said.

For Naomi Townsend, 12, of Greensboro, North Carolina, the exhibit was gross but fun.

"You could hear sounds that your body makes. And it was pretty educational. It tells you a lot of stuff about your body and how to take care of it," Townsend said.

Snot-ket launcher

Over at "Up your Nose," kids are lined-up to launch a booger attack. Using a Nerf-like rocket launcher, aspiring grossologists shoot plastic balls representing dust particles into a huge nose. Once the nose is full, it sneezes and shoots back a gush of dirt balls.

"The older kids really like the dust particles," said Brandi Berry, Fernbank's director of public relations.

Museum attendance has been heavy since the exhibit rolled into town over Memorial Day weekend, Berry noted.

With school out for the summer, parents are bringing their kids and learning gross things, too. Shelley Kim, a pediatrician touring Grossology with her children, learned something she didn't know about a habit many people have -- knuckle-cracking.

"When you pop your joints, it's from the gas escaping from the fluid in your joints. And I thought, 'Well I didn't know that before, that's cool,' " Kim said.

Fernbank store employee Jenee Marquis said, "A lot of adults become kids when they walk in here -- they're like, 'Ooh, look at that. Gross!' "

Grossed out yet? Wondering where that quart of mucus ends up? Grab a tissue and start blowing or just swallow. Eeew!

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