Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students Try Being Parents to 'Babies' for One Week

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Students Try Being Parents to 'Babies' for One Week

Article excerpt

About 200 ninth-graders at Canon-McMillan High School were responsible recently for caring for "babies" during the school day as part of their class work.

The project was part of a unit in the health curriculum in which students learned about human development. However, when students began telling health teacher Lara Antis that television programs such as the MTV series "16 and Pregnant" make teen parenthood look easy, she said she knew educators had to do something to teach the students the enormous responsibility of caring for an infant.

"I wanted something more that would get their attention," she said. "I wanted them to get a hands-on experience of what it's actually like to hold, feed and change a child."

The school has about 20 dolls that are infant simulators, but that wasn't enough for the more than 400 freshmen who would ultimately be participating in the project, so Ms. Antis and fellow health teacher Danielle Hewitt had each student buy a 5-pound bag of flour to simulate the weight of an infant.

The project began with each student picking a blue or pink plastic baby pin out of a container to determine the gender of their infant. The students were then instructed to take their flour babies everywhere they went and fill out hourly logs of their activities. They also participated in a gene project and learned about childhood illnesses and how to feed and change a baby.

Points were deducted when students were found to be without their babies or improperly caring for them. Only two students dropped their babies for which they were deducted 50 points from the project and had to write up a child abuse report.

This was the first time the school has done this project, and Ms. Hewitt said she and Ms. Antis were apprehensive about the response from parents, teachers and students. But the reactions were positive, she said. Teachers and coaches even set up day care for the flour babies in their classrooms and during practices. …

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