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What do 4th-graders know about the digestive system?

“There's something called an esophagus.” “Your esophagus has little muscles that squeeze the food.” “When food goes down the eso, the …,” one boy gives up on the difficult word, but continues his description, “first it goes into your stomach and then it goes into your .. “ “... and then the small intestine and the large intestine,” a classmate excitedly interrupts.

“The whole digestive system is 9 m long,” Wendy tells them. “Wait! That's not possible,” one student protests. A classmate agrees: “That's taller than us!“ “But it goes around and around and around,” another student says. “That’s how it fits in.”

After watching a film about the digestive system, the 4th graders put on lab coats and rubber gloves and conduct an experiment imitating the digestive system. We ask one group what they are doing.

“Making poo. We're smashing up the food.” “We added corn, rugbrød and banana.” “Did you put the water in?” “Water! More water,” one boy calls out. “We just got 20 mL. We need to drink more for breakfast. It’s not wet enough.” “Now put in two drops of food coloring.” “Ew! We’re making vomit.”

After recreating the food’s journey through the mouth, the esophagus and the stomach, the students put the liquid mixture through a piece of nylon stockings to simulate the food’s final trip through the intestines. The conversation at the table is lively. “I am very lucky,” one girl exclaims, “I get to smush it. I can feel the water getting out.” “How does it feel?” “It feels cold.” “It’s my turn.” “It feels good.” “Can I feel it, too?” “Do you want me to squeeze it out?” one boy asks. “It’s like a butt squeezing it out!” “Ew!”

“The poop is green!” “It’s so gross!” ”It’s just a little food coloring,” one of the young scientists calmly remarks.