The Digestion Waterworks Vacation

It’s vacation time, but the Cumberland kids,can’t start their vacation until they

complete their summer learning assignment: How do mammals digest their food?

“Are you dressed and ready for your new assignment? I’m sure you will find this a

really great way to start your summer vacation.” said Mr. Burp.

Everyone entered the Digestion Waterworks Waterpark at the giant mouth. ”All goggles

on Everyone into a raft and hold on tight. We are going to follow digestion from the

beginning to the end!”,shouted Mr. Burp.

“We’re ready Mr. Burp!”,shouted Jon, Lisa, Mateo and Wan.

“Why is this one moving up, down and side to side with water shooting everywhere?”,

asked Lisa.

“Digestion begins in the mouth with chewing and saliva or what you call spit. Saliva

wets and begins to break down the food that is ripped and mashed by the teeth when

there is chewing. When the process is complete, the tongue pushes the food down the

tube called the esophagus(ee-sof-uh-gus)—and here we gooooo!!! AHHHH!!!”,screamed

Mr. Burp.

“The first stop is the stomach where more liquids called acids,enzymes hormones and

water are added to the food to break it down even further.”,said Mr.Burp.

“This feels like a big washing machine!,said Wan.

“Some foods are quickly processed and stored in the liver for later use. The liver

is a warehouse and a filter. It stores packets of food that are processed into sugar

for the body and collects the parts that cannot be used by the body for disposal

later. The rest goes to the small intestine.”, said Mr. Burp.

“Uh-Oh! Now it’s drain time!”,said Wan.

“Wheeee!”,squealed Lisa.

“We are now entering the small intestines it is twenty two feet long in humans.”,

explained Mr. Burp.

“Most of your food is absorbed in the small intestines.”,stated Mr.Burp.

“Hey, this is like passing through a carwash! We keep passing through those fringe

curtains!”,yelled Jon.

“Those things you call “fringe curtains are called villi(vill-eye) in the small

intestine. The liquid food now passes through the villi into the bloodstream to the

muscles and tissues by the red blood cells.”, yelled Mr. Burp.

“Whoa! Where are we now?, asked Mateo.

“It sure is dark! Watch that curve!”, yelled Lisa.

“You are now in the large intestine. This is where some of the water you drink and

water from the food you eat is collected and absorbed by the body.”,explained Mr.


“It’s the real waterworks of the body!”,said Mateo.

“Yes. You are right, Mateo!”,said Mr. Burp. “It is also where the solid waste is

processed for disposal. The water from the large intestine is used to form stool or

feces(fee-sees) that is passed out of the body through the anus(A-nus).”

“Here we go!” yelled Jon, Lisa, Mateo and Wan as their raft shot out into a large

pool of fresh water. Wan said,”And now we are in a large toilet bowl waiting to be

flushed away!”

“That’s right, Wan!”,said Mr. Burp.”And that‘s how we digest food. Are you ready

for your summer vacation?”

“YEAH!”, shouted Jon, Lisa, Mateo and Wan.


The Cave of the Ear

“Wow, Mr. Burp! Another learning adventure? We have our cave exploring equipment ready to go. The spelunking gear is ready!”, said Jon.

“Yes, today, away we go into the ear and look at how it works!”, said Mr. Burp.”Is everyone attached to your tethers? We don’t want to lose anybody.”

“Yes Mr. Burp!” the group said.

“We will start with the auricle. The outer ear that directs sound. Headlights on as we go deep into the ear!” whispered Mr. Burp.

“Hey! There’s this sticky, slippery stuff on the bottom! I can hardly keep from falling!”, cried Lisa.

“That’s cerumen or what you call ear wax. It keeps insects and dirt from collecting on the eardrum or the tympanic membrane.”, explained Mr. Burp.

“There’s hair all around here on the top, the walls and the bottom. It’s like walking through a carwash!” said Jon.

“The hair helps push the wax and dirt out of the ear canal.”, said Mr. Burp.”Sometimes it builds up and needs a doctor to help move it out, Wan”.

“That is the tympanic membrane, also known as the eardrum. See it move as we talk?, asked Mr. Burp.

“What’s that on the other side of it?”,asked Jon.

“That is what is called the middle ear. We will explore further. Normally we would not be able to pass through the tympanic membrane, but we will today. Step through this hole.”, said Mr. Burp.

“When the tympanic membrane vibrates or shakes, it makes the three bones of the middle ear move. The bone next to tympanic membrane is the malleus or hammer, which strikes the incus or anvil which shakes the stapes or stirrup. The stirrup vibrates the hairs in the vestibule of the cochlea.”, said Mr. Burp.

“That big snail looking thing is the cochlea?”, asked Lisa.

“Yes.”, said Mr. Burp.”The cochlea is the beginning of the inner ear. There are many hairs in the liquid inside the cochlea that move the auditory nerve which goes to the brain and is recognized as sound.”

“What’s that big tunnel at the bottom of the middle ear under the bones?”, asked Mateo.

“That is called the eustachian (you-stay-shun) tube. It keeps the middle ear dry and maintains the air pressure so that the tympanic membrane and the bones of the ear vibrate without any problems.”, said Mr.Burp.

“Where does it end?”, asked Wan.

“Well, this is how we will leave, so let’s find out!”, said Mr. Burp. “Hold on to your tethers as we slowly descend! When you yawn, this tube opens to let a small amount of air in. It’s that “pop” you hear when flying on an airplane. The air it lets in keeps the middle ear bones dry and keeps the tympanic membrane from rupturing.”

“Weeeeee!”, said Lisa. “That was a straight drop with no curves.”

“Correction. That was a slightly slanted drop without curves.”, said Mr. Burp.

“We are in the mouth!”, said Jon.

“What happens when someone can’t hear?”, asked Mateo.

“It can have three causes or a mixture,” explained Mr. Burp. “The tympanic membrane can be torn as it was when we entered the middle ear, or the bones can become gooey and sticky and won’t vibrate.This is what happens with a cold, allergies or an ear infection. They also will not vibrate if they are under water. This usually happens with allergies or a torn tympanic membrane.”

“If the nerve is damaged,which can be from a virus, medications, or head injury, then the sound is still not transferred to the brain and sometimes there may be a combination of all three!”, stated Mr. Burp.

“Wow! You almost have to be a mechanic to repair the ear!”, said Jon.

“I guess that’s what you would call the doctor that works on the ear. The doctor for the ear is called an otolaryngologist (Oh-toe-laren-goll-oh-jest). Commonly known as the ear-nose and throat doctor.” said Mr. Burp. “They don’t like it when you put things in the ear canal. It is hard to retrieve them when they get stuck and they can cause a lot of damage to the ear by punching holes in the tympanic membrane and breaking the bones of the middle ear. It is not easy to make those repairs. There are very few replacement parts.”

“So we should take care of our ears like we take care of our cars.”, said Lisa.

“Yes.”, said Mr. Burp. “ We need to also keep them protected from loud noises. It damages the hairs in the cochlea. You don’t want to have to use hearing aids before you are 30 years old.”

“Well, this ends today’s adventure. Get ready for the next one, gang!”, said Mr. Burp. “Goodbye!”

“Goodbye Mr. Burp!”, said the gang.”See you next time!”




“Guess what, Tommy? I just learned that by body is made of a lot of water!” squealed

Dana. Tommy and Dana have been best friends and next door neighbors since they were


“Yeah? How do you know?”, Tommy asked Dana.

“Cindy told me while she was doing her science homework.”, stated Dana.

“I don’t believe her. Let’s go ask Professor Burns. He will know.”, said Tommy. “He

usually knows about things like that.”

“Okay!”, said Dana. “Let’s go now!”

Dana and Tommy rode their bikes through the neighborhood to Professor Burns’ house.

They knocked at his door.

“I hope he isn’t in his lab in the back yet.” said Dana. Just then he opened his front door.

“Good morning friends! How are you today? What brings you here today?”, asked the


“Good morning Professor Burns! We are fine! We came because we want to know if it is

true that our bodies are made of water?”, asked Tommy.

“Good! I see you two are ready to learn! Let’s go to my lab. I can show you better there.”,

said Professor Burns.

Professor Burns, Dana and Tommy walked through the house, out the back door and down

the walk to the lab.  They reached the lab and sat around one of Professor Burns’ large,

black, stone rectangular tables.

“The human body is nearly 60 percent water. This is a little over one half water, which

equals to a little more than 11 gallons in an adult! Water is all over your body. Your blood,

muscles and bones are all made of water.  That is one of the reasons why your body floats

in water!”, explained Professor Burns.

“Wow!”, said Tommy. “Your sister was right, Dana.”

“She also told me that we have to drink lots of water everyday, or we would run out of

water.”, said Dana.

“Yuck!”, yelled Tommy. “I don’t like water! It tastes nasty!”

“ What your sister said is somewhat true , Dana. The water in our bodies does many

important things.  It keeps our bodies cool by perspiring or what you would call sweating.

It takes food and oxygen to areas of your body where it is needed by using your blood. It

removes waste from your body in the forms of urine and feces.”, explained Professor


“Gee Professor, water sure does a lot of things in your body….”, said Tommy,”but I still

don’t like it!”

“Let’s look at how water maintains your temperature. Tommy, are your hands dry? Put on

this rubber glove and keep it on until I tell you to take it off.”, instructed Professor Burns.

“When it is very hot outside, and you have been weeding Mrs. Green’s flowerbeds, you

start to “sweat”. That is one of the ways your body cools off!”, said Professor Burns.

“It’s kind of like you have a fire started and you pour water on the fire to put it out!”, said


“Right!”, said Professor Burns.”Oh by the way. Tommy, you can take that glove off now.

What has happened to your hand?”

“My hand is all wet!”,said Tommy.

“Your body started to cool you hand with water.”, said Dana.

“Very good!”, said Professor Burns.

Professor Burns reached for his long handled mirror. He placed the mirror under his nose

as he spoke. “Another way your body cools itself with water is with water in a different

form called steam.  When you exhale, your release small amounts of water from your lungs

in the form of a gas called steam. Let’s look at the mirror now.”

“Gee, it’s all fogged up!”, said Dana.

“Yeah, just like our bathroom mirror when we take a hot shower!”, said Tommy.

Professor Burns explained further. “Another way to cool the body is to drink water. Your

body lets you know it’s time to add water when……?”

“YOU GET THIRSTY!” they all yelled together.

“It takes a lot of work to keep your temperature regulated in hot weather, so that means

that your body has to work harder, burn more fuel, which causes more waste! What do you

think would happen if you don’t help keep that water supply high?”, asked Professor


“You would get really hot and explode?”, asked Dana.

“You would get very sick?”, asked Tommy.

“The lack of water is called dehydration. There are 3 basic stages of dehydration:

I.  Mild. The body will have thirst, dry, chapped lips, dizziness and headache.

II. Moderate. The body will have a dry mouth, sunken eyes, skin that doesn’t

                bounce back when quickly pinched and released and low urine output.

III. Severe. You can see rapid breathing, cold hands and feet, blue lips, mental

                  confusion and sleepiness.

Mild dehydration can be self-treated by just drinking water.

Moderate dehydration may require the assistance of your doctor.

Severe dehydration is very serious and requires that you get to a hospital right away for

treatment.”, explained Professor Burns.

“I think I am starting to like water!”, said Tommy.

“How much water is enough for the human body?”, asked Dana.

“When the weather is hot and you are not active, both of you are six years old, so your

body requires at least 45 cups of water per day. That is 360 ounces per day or roughly 3

gallon.  The older you get, the more you need, so add one 8 ounce cup per year you grow

older. Adults require about 720 ounces per day or a little more than 5 and one half gallons.

Remember this is based on activity levels and weather.”, stated Professor Burns.

“That sure seems like a lot!”, said Tommy.

“Not if you think about how much water you are losing through sweat, rapid exhalation

while exercising in the heat and urination.”, said Professor Burns.” Some fruits and

vegetables also have a high water content and by eating them, you help maintain your

water levels, but nothing can totally take the place of water.”

“Don’t forget that you can become dehydrated during cold weather too!  You just don’t

sweat as much, therefore you don’t notice it, but you still have to keep on drinking water.

Water is still needed to carry fuel and oxygen to the organs of your body even when it is

cold outside.” , reminded Professor Burns.

“Let’s go back to the house for a snack and something to drink.”

“Yeah, like a tall glass of cold water!”, said Tommy.

“Right!”, said Dana.”You are starting to like water, Tommy!”




How Much Water Should My Child Drink – CHOC Children’s