Last post I promised you a BIG surprise.
Body Walk has been UPGRADED with NEW parts. This has been a long time coming. Last summer, I started the process of applying for a grant to get money to upgrade the Body Walk exhibit. All that hard work paid off and now the exhibit is much improved. Body Walk has a new brain dome, new pop-up tents, new esophagus, new totes, new teeth bags, a new entrance for the mouth station, and two new bags.
The exhibit started traveling in 2005. Since then, minor things have been periodically upgraded such as food props, scripts and flip charts, and the back wall to the stomach when the USDA changed the food logo from MyPyramid to MyPlate. No major structural components had been upgraded. All the tents, frames and totes were the same. The exhibit travels nine months a year, being set up and taken down on average five times a month. Things eventually wear out.
Thus, new stuff! First up, the new brain dome. Our old one was an aluminum frame. Over time, all the buttons had stopped working as a way of holding the poles together. The structure was not as stable as it could be. The inside fabric was nylon, and the outside fabric was a heavy, non-breathable vinyl. The new brain dome has a super-steady frame of hollow aluminum poles. The fabric is not vinyl. It is lightweight, breathable, and machine washable! The outside and inside fabrics zip together so that the frame is completely hidden, adding to the illusion the students have entered a giant body for their trip. The new fabric is very easy to work with and the inside graphics are fantastically done.
New brain dome and Sir Rebrum
Frame and Grey matter from the outside.
Grey matter from the inside.
The majority of the exhibit is made from pop-up tents. Each tent is a station. The tents are covered in printed vinyl walls and strapped together to form the ‘body’ the students travel through. The old tents were difficult to set up as they were missing screws, or parts had broken off, or in one case, were finally being held together with duct tape. No more. The new tents all go up smoothly. They are a breeze to set up and take down, with almost no effort. They are all true in shape, giving the exhibit a beautiful symmetry.
The exhibit seen from above.
One of the critical parts of the exhibit is the esophagus. This is a metal frame with a fabric lining that sits between the mouth and stomach. Just as your real esophagus is the tunnel food takes in your body, our fake esophagus is the tunnel our nutrients (students) take from one station to the next. The new one is very easy to put together and it looks great.
Tunnel between stations.
One of the most often photographed parts of the Body Walk is the entrance to the mouth. This is the part that is very colorful, has the name of the exhibit right on it, and is the part most easily recognized. The old entrance was made of three large aluminum pieces that were covered with a vinyl front that was attached with hook and loop tape. The new one is a very sturdy aluminum frame of many pieces that quickly join together. The whole thing is then encased in a fabric panel that zips shut. As with the brain, the frame is hidden, adding to the beauty and clean look of the exhibit. Wonderfully, this fabric is also machine washable.
The new entrance with the props for the mouth station.
New entrance with the tongue and teeth stools. Through the mouth, the stomach is visible.
This upgrade also included all new bags for the teeth stools and new totes to house all the scripts and props.
Fresh new blue totes to replace the old grey ones.
You may be wondering what happened to all the old stuff? It was recycled. There is a great recycling center in Starkville, home to Mississippi State University and the Body Walk. They were happy to give new life to the aluminum, canvas and plastic.
Pile of old frames from the brain, esophagus, and mouth entrance.
Frames loaded and headed to recycling center.
The new exhibit has been to three counties so far. The students are thrilled to come in to their gym and see the exhibit waiting on them. I have heard several gasp in surprise and delight as they make their way into the brain station. They love how realistic (but not gross) it looks. I love how well everything is traveling, and how easy it is to use. I am thrilled with the improvements.
Next up, Body Walk on the road again.