65100_8583fd9eb9a71b32e38f7745b2a0ff3332669c1fHow many of us have heard of, or taken part in, the school project in which students are asked to take care of a bag of flour as if it’s a baby? The concept is, that by hauling that flour around everywhere they go, without damage, the students will realize how much responsibility is involved with raising a child. Of course, we all know, lugging a child around without damage is just a small part of what it takes to be a parent. Mrs. Melinda Gammons decided to take that project quite a few steps further in her Childhood Development class at the high school this year by introducing curriculum from ®Realityworks, a company that specializes in interactive, educational products. The ®Realityworks program contains simulation babies that have been programmed to imitate fetal alcohol syndrome, drug-affected, and shaken babies. Students in her class had the opportunity to take an animatronic baby home see firsthand what it is like to care for an infant.

Infant simulators are a popular way to provide a realistic experience of caring for an infant. The goal is to help students realize the enormous responsibility that raising a child entails and to motivate them to avoid risking pregnancy. Students in Mrs. Gammons class took the babies home for 3 nights. *When the babies cry, (the sound is a recording of a real infant) the students must respond within two minutes by touching a special wrist band to a sensor on the baby. Next they must determine what the baby needs. The baby could be hungry, cold, or need to be burped or rocked. The baby might need a diaper change, or it could simply be fussy and need to be gently rocked. Along with responding properly to its cries, students can’t just forget about the baby when it’s quiet. If it’s allowed to get too hot or too cold, if it’s left too long in one item of clothing, or if it’s kept in its optional car seat too long, parents will earn demerits. The student responses are stored in the baby’s electronics and the teacher connects the baby to a computer and gets a report on how the student performed when the baby is returned. Several students could not make it the full 3 days and opted for the harder, more intensive packet assignment instead. Included are quotes from a few of the students who participated.

Student Quotes-

Justice B.- “Best birth control out there, haven’t slept in 3 days.”

Georgie H.- “If you ever plan on having a child, it’d be a good idea to take this class.”

Ashley W.- “This class is very educational and easy to learn about the development of children and what can harm them.”

Desmond L.- “Great health means a greater future for your kids.”

Anonymous- “I think I may do the packet instead of keeping the baby because I’m about to go insane!”

The following are the products that the class is currently using:

RealCare Shaken Baby

Create high-impact health lessons while helping eliminate Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

   RealCare Drug-Affected Baby

Covers the physical and mental effects drug use can have during pregnancy.

   RealCare Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Baby

Covers the physical and mental effects alcohol can have during pregnancy.

   RealCare Preemie Baby

Modeled after a preterm infant born at 30 weeks

Fetal Development Kit

students get an in-depth look at embryo and fetal development by touching, feeling and examining a detailed, life-size model of each fetal development stage.

The RealCare® Pregnancy Profile® Simulator

Replicates the third trimester of pregnancy.

The RealCare Babies were purchased with funds made available by:

*Vevay Switzerland County Foundation,  Inc – grant paid for 6 RealCare Baby 3 babies; Starter Kit; X Stick with curriculum and other resources to use.

*Community Foundation of Switzerland County, Inc – Infant Health Trio Pack (drug affected baby, alcohol syndrome baby, and a shaken baby simulator); RealCare Pregnancy Profile Simulator, Fetal Development Combo, and extra wrist bands.
*Women’s Fund of Switzerland County – Preemie baby

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* http://newatlas.com