About the time you park your nose over a collection of vents to play Name that Body Odor — is it foot? armpit? —you realize this isn't your average museum exhibit. It's "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body." And boy, does it live up to the name.
Exploration Place's newest traveling exhibit, which opens Saturday, explores all the mushy, slimy, oozy, crusty, scaly, stinky stuff our bodies produce. It's based on the best-selling book by Sylvia Branzei.
"Ewwwww!" said 8-year-old Caitlyn Carey, a Hutchinson second-grader who got an early peek at the exhibit with classmates Wednesday.
She grimaced after hearing Professor Nigel Nose-It-All explain how the average person SWALLOWS OVER A QUART OF MUCUS every day!
Caitlyn scurried from that station to one about burps, where 8-year-old Robbie Dreasher was cranking the belch machine and laughing hysterically.
Then she skipped over to a station titled "Toot Toot," an exploration of flatulence, and then to "Urine: The Game." Later she played a mean game of "Gas Attack" pinball, where the cabbage bumper nets you 1,500 bonus points and tiny cartoon voices sing, "Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit."
"Kids love it," said Laurel Zhang, an Exploration Place educator. "Especially boys."
No doubt. It's shocking, disgusting and vile.
Inspired by the exhibit, Zhang is helping to develop a "Gross Camp" for June. The weeklong day camp, designed primarily for 7- to 9-year-olds, will feature dissections, experiments and a few pretty nasty sounding snacks.
"We'll talk about the properties of skin, and we'll be making and eating skin," Zhang said. "We'll explore blood in all its gory detail, and we'll make Bloody Mary milkshakes."
The "Grossology" exhibit includes a "Tour du Nose" that explains how noses act as air filters. Walk inside, step on a lighted circle, and you hear and feel the giant sniffer "sneeze" you out.
And just when you think it can't get any sicker, you see a "skin wall," which visitors can scale by grasping giant replica scabs, moles, warts and pimples.
Or you crouch over that horrifying sniff test, trying to match odors with the correct area of the body.
"I did that yesterday," said museum security guard Patrick Henry, shaking his head and pointing to the foot odor valve. "And I will never ever do it again. That's gross."
What: "Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body," a national traveling exhibit
Where: Exploration Place, 300 N. McLean Blvd.
When: Saturday through Sept. 6
How much: Museum admission required. Cost: $9.50 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children ages 4 to 11, free for kids under 4.
For more information, go to www.exploration.org, or call 316-660-0600.