In Search of the ‘Perfect Poo’

This blog article comes from Sarah Gowanlock, who has been volunteering at MUSA since September 2014. Here she ruminates about our recent event for children ‘How do I work? Perfect Poo’.

MUSA’s ‘Doctors in the Making’ exhibition, on display until 19th April, has inspired the theme for many of our recent events for children. In the first of the series, How do I work?, children participated in the ‘Perfect Poo’ workshop to get to the bottom of how the digestive system works and how doctors use poo (or, as they call it, stools) to diagnose patients.  With promises of toilet humour and hilarity, there were high levels of interest in the workshop with both sessions fully booked well in advance!

Bristol Stool chart
The children survey the samples as they learn about the Bristol Stool Chart

In preparation, Charlie, MUSA’s Learning and Access Trainee, spent the morning making ‘samples’ for the children …

They were not real but a delightful mix of chocolate brownie mix, vegetable oil, pvc glue and sweetcorn! Yum!

The workshop introduced the children, ages 3-6 and later 7-12, to the path that food takes from mouth to loo.  Beginning in the mouth, the children re-enacted the actions of teeth and the tongue by mushing together bread and milk, representative of saliva, and rolling the mushed up food into a ball.

Using tights, the children learn about how the body digests nutrients from food

Next, the children learned about the oesophagus, using tights and a tennis ball to understand how the muscles squeeze the food down into the stomach.  Moving to the stomach, the children combined crackers and soda (or stomach acid) into a plastic bag (the stomach) and recreated the sloshing actions that break up food further.  Finally, the children moved to the last station about the intestines, again using tights to replicate how the intestines extract nutrients, leaving only waste.

The second part of the workshop focused on the result of the digestive process: poo!  The childrMaking perfect pooen learned that what you eat changes your poo’s colour – parents urged their children to aim for the green poo, produced by eating lots of leafy green vegetables.  Lastly, the children matched the poo samples Charlie prepared to the Bristol Stool Chart, the method doctors use to categorise the consistency of poo from diarrhoea to constipation.

It was so informative and fun that everyone was pooped by the end!


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