Raider Academy health teacher Sarah Persinger wanted to try something new with her ninth grade class. While abstinence is still the forefront of the curriculum, she decided it would be more informative for her older students to research the phases of pregnancy, birth and how drugs affect an unborn fetus.
The students pulled names to form groups and each were assigned to the topics of first, second or third trimester, birth and drug abuse. The projects were displayed in the Raider Academy library on Thursday, Nov. 15 for other classes to see.
Now that this portion of the project is complete, the students will be tasked with a writing assignment to explain how teen pregnancy would affect them.
“I’m so proud of them – there’s definitely power in education and this is huge,” Persinger said.
It is Persinger’s hope that this knowledge, paired with the standard curriculum, will help decrease teen pregnancy as well as make the topic less taboo to the students in the future when they are ready and old enough to start a family.
Assigned to the third trimester, Chandlar Carter, Caroline Ballard and Macie Lawrence decided to use fruit to display how much the baby grows during the final three months of pregnancy. They also looked at healthy eating tips and exercise tips for mothers while in this phase of pregnancy. Beyond that, the trio learned some facts that shocked them.
“I thought babies eyes were closed like puppies and their eyes didn’t open until a few hours after birth,” Lawrence said. Her mother set her on the right path and informed her that babies eyes are open in the womb and that she and her brother were both born with open eyes.
The other two were shocked at the growth and the prospect of giving birth to something bigger than a pineapple.
“I was not ready to hear that either,” Carter said.
Learning about birth
Landon Kenney came up with a demonstration to show how contractions happen during birth.
Kenney inflated a balloon with a ping pong ball inside of it and center the ping pong ball over the balloon’s lip to seal it, instead of tying it. He demonstrated that Braxton-Hicks contractions, which are the “practice contractions,” don’t do much to the uterus. To show this, he gently squeezed the balloon near the top, which caused no change to the shape of the balloon.
When real contractions occur, they begin to stretch the uterus and start moving the baby down and naturally push it out. Demonstrating on the inflated balloon, Kenney squeezed the sides of the balloon a few times, causing the ping pong ball to eventually be forced out.
Kenney and his mother came up with idea and Kenney took a few hours to perfect it.
He also strung together various layers of felt and made cuts in them to demonstrate the size of incisions made for a C-section. Certain layers, such as the abdominal muscle, were not cut as doctors can separate them without making cuts.
“I didn’t know about the C-section and I didn’t know how much they have to get through for the baby to come out,” Kenney said.
Another group, Andrea Hickman, Patrick Ratsimeuang, Nazario Flores and Mila Zou, came up with the idea of building a representation of the birth canal. They had students walk under a red tarp. They pinned facts about the birthing process inside.