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State education office wary of Body Worlds display

State education office wary of Body Worlds display



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KAYSVILLE, Utah (AP) -- A junior high field trip to an exhibit that shows how human muscles, tendons and blood vessels are interconnected was canceled after the Utah Office of Education warned it might be too explicit for young students.

The state education department sent Fairfield Junior High School a letter that read the office "strongly cautions districts and schools to consider this exhibit as appropriate for only high school students that are participating in anatomy and physiology classes."

Fairfield had planned on sending seventh-graders to the Body Worlds exhibit in Salt Lake City, the Standard-Examiner in Ogden reported Tuesday. The exhibit displays real human bodies that have gone through the process of plastination, which dehydrates bodies to preserve and harden them.

"After the trip was scheduled, all I can say is, there was some rethinking," said Chris Williams, Davis School District's community relations representative. "The decision was made that maybe we shouldn't send all the seventh-graders."

Instead of viewing the exhibit, the students went to a zoo.

Fairfield principal Steve Davis said the school had already offered parents the choice of sending their children to the Body Worlds exhibit or to Hogle Zoo.

"They had that choice from the beginning," he said. "I didn't feel it (Body Worlds) was for every seventh-grader."

About 75 percent of the parents signed the permission slip for the Body Worlds exhibit.

While the State Office of Education letter doesn't forbid schools from sending students to Body Worlds, it advises teachers and districts to preview the exhibit and have parents sign permission slips before the visit.

Lisa Davis, a representative for The Leonardo, the museum hosting the exhibit, said more than 10,000 students have been scheduled to see the display. Most are high school students.

"The nature of this exhibit is that it is very real," she said. "They are authentic, and that is actually part of the power of the experience. As for age appropriateness, we do let parents know the kinds of things they will see in the exhibit, but ultimately we feel it should be left up to them because they know their children best."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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