Grossology at Da Vinci Science Center

Grossology at Da Vinci Science Center

By Angela Bristow

“Shh. Don’t say that out loud!” That’s what we tell our kids when they blurt out some comment about the more indelicate bodily functions. You know, the not-so-pleasant sounds, smells, fluids and growths that, while necessary, are not discussed in polite circles. Except one: The Da Vinci Science Center. In fact, that’s the theme of the Center’s new exhibit, Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body.

“I think it will appeal to all ages, depending on your interests. It’s geared toward pretty young kids up through middle school,” said Karen Knecht, Director of Education and Exhibits, at The Da Vinci Science Center, located on the Hamilton Boulevard Bypass in Allentown.

Grossology runs from May 18 to September 2, and features 15 stations using sophisticated animatronics and exhibits that show the yuckier bodily functions from a runny nose to body odor. The exhibit promises to answer questions such as: Why is snot sometimes yellow? What does your nose do? What causes pimples? What is poo?

At most stations there are characters that teach about aspects of the human body, such as Nigel Nose-It-All with a runny nose; Burp Man that drinks from a three-foot tall soda pop can that a visitor can pump until he burps; and a vomit center with Barf Boy where the visitor does a series of actions to see if they can get Barf Boy to throw up.

Most of the stations are interactive, including a life-size operation game, an opportunity to look inside the stomach and see how food is digested, and a station called Urine: The Game that shows how the kidneys filter bodily fluid and waste. There’s also a skin-climbing wall where kids can climb up warts, hairs and pimples.

“There is usually someone in the exhibit room that can enhance what your learning and seeing,” said Knecht.

Not to be missed is the Y U Stink station that matches body odors with the area of the body where they come from and identifies the bacteria responsible for each odor. The Toot Toot station explains, you guessed it, flatulence. At this station, through the use of rubber tubing, the visitor can learn about this process. But the fun doesn’t end there, there is also the GI Slide where kids can slide through the oversized gastrointestinal tract; Urine: The Game; and Tour du Nose where children can walk through a giant nose. Once the visitor has enjoyed all of the smells, noises and sights, you’ll want to visit the multiple choice game about Grossology called Let’s Play Grossology that challenges your knowledge about the body processes.

While Grossology means to take a humorous look at these bodily functions it does help visitors learn. “Our goal is to have participants learn one new thing about their human body and to have students get interested in medical careers,” said Knecht.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to know about all the things they want to know about but we’re too polite to talk about,” she adds.

The Grossology exhibition covers approximately 2,500 square feet of The Da Vinci Science Center. The entire building is nearly 10,000 square feet with over 100 hands-on exhibits. Visitors will want to allow at least 45 minutes to one hour for the Grossology exhibit and additional time to see all of the permanent exhibits at The Da Vinci Science Center. Photography is permitted, so your child can have their picture taken with Nigel Nose-It-All or you can stop by the gift shop for a memento of your visit. There isn’t a restaurant in The Da Vinci Science Center, so you’ll want to bring your own lunch.

Knecht recommends coming early in the summer, “Don’t wait until the end because it tends to get really busy toward the end of the exhibit run.”

Advanced Animations, in Vermont, worked on the production of the exhibit with the author, Sylvia Branvei, who wrote the children’s book series, Grossology, on which the exhibit is based. The exhibition is part of The Da Vinci Science Center’s Year of the Human Body and is presented locally by St. Luke’s University Health Network. According to the Da Vinci Science Center’s website, “The Year of the Human Body is a coordinated presentation of visitor exhibits, public programs, and industry ventures intended to broaden interest and participation in medical careers.”

The Da Vinci Science Center is in the process of scheduling a book signing and shows with Sylvia Branvei and advises visitors to watch its website,, for dates.

Watch, too, for announcements about activities going on throughout the summer that are designed to teach some concept about the human body. These activities will be offered through The Da Vinci Science Center and their community partners. During the summer these activities are offered during the week and on the weekend.

The Da Vinci Science Center is open to all curious minds seven days a week. Its stimulating exhibit floor provides the opportunity to discover the world of science and technology.

Visitors can enjoy the Grossology exhibit for the regular admission rate of $11.95 for adults, $8.95 for children ages four to 12, and children age three and under admitted for free. Memberships are also available for returning visitors.

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