Theme Park: Joe’s Gastro World

Ribbon diagram of human salivary alpha-amylase...

Ribbon diagram of human salivary alpha-amylase. Created using Accelrys DS Visualizer Pro 1.6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biology 42 – Human Biology (Spring 2007)

Theme Park:  Joe’s Gastro World

[Students and professors, please read.]

Outside the front door is a health-food restaurant (“Joe’s”) one must visit before one enters the theme park.  Everything on the menu goes towards meeting the daily requirements on the food-guide pyramid, except it doesn’t contain foods in the top of the pyramid.  One must select from the menu according to the pyramid recommendations.  One leaves the restaurant with a personalized theme park guidebook that tells one what is going to happen in various parts of the theme park to the food one ingested.

Bathrooms:  on the backs of the bathroom doors are signs about digestive and eating disorders, what causes them, how to improve and avoid them.

One starts out with a group of 20 people, with four groups of five.  Five are given red shirts that say “CARBOHYDRATE”, five are given blue shirts that say “PROTEIN”, five are given green shirts that say “NUCLEIC ACID” and five are given yellow shirts that say “FAT”.

Entrance:  Joe’s Mouth.  Door frame is the upper lip.  Red carpet is the tongue.  First room is the inside of the mouth.  The ceiling looks like the roof of one’s mouth.  Something funny is said about not being able to chew if one doesn’t have teeth.  The teeth in the room start out “dirty” and it is the groups’ job to clean them (large tooth brushes, ropes, etc.).  Free sacks of toothbrush/paste/floss are given to everyone.  Inside this room there is a way to manipulate the salivary glands for a nice splash of water which breaks large groups of people into smaller groups of people who get into their bolus mobiles (each mobile has one person from each of the four t-shirt groups).  The guide or a voice recording explains in brief about salivary amylase and bolus.  Two of the carbohydrates put on hats that say SALIVARY AMYLASE.

The bolus mobiles move through the pharynx (tonsil sides/uvula flap) and larynx (Adam’s apple) and esophagus (peristalsis, sphincters – moving walls) – at first the bolus mobiles “go the wrong way” into the trachea and get coughed back into the pharynx.  Finally it splashes into the stomach’s gastric juice, but to teach acid reflux, and that heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, the mobiles reverse back up the esophagus while the guide or recorded voice explains why… then they are back in the stomach.

Inside the stomach room (shaped like a stomach which moves to the right, because Joe is lying on his belly) one can see an ulcer on the ceiling.  There are activities on pepsin, HCL, and ulcers.  Two of the protein people get PEPSIN hats.  There is a stomach-volcano, to test the question:  How much can it hold until it erupts?  There is a square-dance to churn everyone up, and to avoid too much excitement (vomiting) everyone gets into chyme mobiles which proceed to the small intestines.

In the small intestine room there is a movie screen, and the chyme mobiles park themselves in front of it, but they can rock forward, backward and sideways – like in Universal Studios (to give the illusion that one is moving inside the action shown on the screen).  The audience sees what happens if they get digested.  Stuff in the show includes:  duodenum, bile from liver and gall bladder (gall stones), pancreatic juice (amylase, trypsin, lipase), digestive secretions (gastin, GIP, CCK, secretin), villus, brush border microvilli, lacteal, and maltase.

After the show, everyone who doesn’t already have one, gets a hat with their respective enzyme(s) written on it (see Table 7.3, page 127).  Fats also get a “bile salts” arm band.

The audience is directed to dissection rooms which show the anatomy of the liver (jaundice, hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc.), pancreas (sodium bicarbonate, amylase, trypsin, lipase), and gall bladder (bile, gall stones).

Put-it-back-together activities (including an activity to try to stuff a representation of the intestines back into a representation of the abdominal cavity) and completing research in all the dissection rooms for each organ (kind of like at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) gives one points for the health food snack bar with which one may purchase a healthy snack upon leaving the theme park (if one still has one’s appetite by then).

Everyone takes off their hats and arm-bands and is given feces-hats.

Finally, they get in their feces mobiles and take a roller-coaster ride through the cecum (appendix/peritonitis), colon (ascending, transverse, descending, sigmoid) (obligate anaerobes, polyps), rectum, anal canal (fiber, diarrhea, constipation), and then, due to diarrhea caused by too much milk of magnesia…

Exit:  after passing through the anal canal they are “flushed away” down the toilette on the last ride of the theme park.  They are seated in a compartment that spares one from looking back to see Joe’s posterior…

They may now visit the health-food snack bar and cash in the points they earned toward a healthy snack.

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