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Gross Anatomy

"Ewww, gross!" is a way-cool way for kids these days to dismiss things they don't like or understand, but the new exhibition opening Saturday at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale allows them to gross out and learn at the same time. The exhibit, "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body," is all about the oozy, crusty, slimy, and stinky gunk your body produces -- stuff we don't talk about in polite company.

The exhibit, geared toward youngsters ages 6 to 14, is a science-in-disguise romp with animatronic characters and interactive displays. It's clustered into three body categories: the nose, the gut, and other gross stuff.

Nigel Nose-It-All, a nine-foot-tall animatronic figure with a faucet for a nose, periodically dumps balls of snot out of his nose while introducing visitors to allergies, sinuses, runny noses, and other slimy subjects. Adjacent to Nigel is a giant nose that you enter to explore its inner workings and which, in response, sneezes on you; and the Up Your Nose game, in which you shoot pollen balls at a meganose to see how boogers form. It, too, sneezes and shoots the balls back at you.

The gut group features Burp Man, a larger-than-life cartoon character who lets kids help him drink a three-foot-tall soda until his stomach pressure is such that he releases a giant belch. The youngest visitors slide and crawl through a huge 3-D model of the digestive system 30 feet from the mouth to the large intestine. Two pinball machines and a talking animated pig teach kids which foods create more gas than others in Gas Attack! And the Vomit Center demonstrates the central role of the brain in vomiting and why, once you start to barf, you can't stop.

The Skin Crawling climbing wall is a highlight of the "other gross stuff" category. A large-scale replica of human skin, it's complete with zits, blisters, scabs, warts, moles, and weepy wounds that are used as handholds and footholds to traverse the 12-by-9-foot wall.

The museum's exhibit is based on the best-selling set of five Grossology books written by science teacher Sylvia Branzei. "If we teach students in their own words, they'll understand better and actually learn something," she opines.

During the three-day opening extravaganza this weekend, the museum features live animal encounters, magic demonstrations, radio remotes, prizes, and a guest appearance by a real-life stand-in for Nigel Nose-It-All, just in case the more than 20 clever and fun displays don't gross you out sufficiently.

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Tomi Curtis

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