• Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

A simple matter of digestion 2009.05.13

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

It’s all very alimentary, my dear. bauer.digestion.jpg

It’s starts at the mouth and it ends...well, somewhere else down the line.

Jim Bauer’s eighth grade science class at Morenci Middle School was about to act out the story of digestion Wednesday morning when they hit a couple of last-minute glitches.

The large intestine was absent; the anus had been suspended. A few students were calling for a delay—more time to study—but Mr. Bauer would have none of that.

He noted that the media was present and, with a couple of adjustments, the show would go on.

A new anus was assigned, the small intestine support group was shifted and the players took their parts behind a table at the front of the room. The table was empty but for a large bowl of popcorn.

Mr. Bauer had a question for the liver and pancreas, who stood off to the side.

“Why aren’t you with the others?”

The liver comes through with the correct answer: They aren’t actually part of the digestive system, but they produce substances to help with digestion.

The Mouth kicks off the trip through the alimentary canal, explaining that the enzyme amylase found in saliva starts to break down starches in food.

She pours a container of spit into the bowl—actually it was water representing saliva—and mixes it around.

Good start, Mr. Bauer says, but does food really look like that after it’s been chewed?

The Mouth goes to work on the popcorn, crushing it with her fingers to create a soppy mixture.

Next comes the Esophagus, the muscular tube connecting the mouth and the stomach. It’s lined with mucus to help the food slide down more easily. There’s also the epiglottis to close off the windpipe (trachea) to prevent food from sliding down that tube. Muscular contractions (peristalsis) move the food along its way.

“Is it possible to eat upside down?” Mr. Bauer asks.

The answer is “yes.”

The Esophagus is pleased that she isn’t required to touch the chewed popcorn. She merely passes the bowl on to the Stomach.

This is where most mechanical changes take place with the food. The Stomach adds a beaker of pepsin to the mix, along with hydrochloric acid to help the pepsin work and to kill off the bacteria. Proteins are turning to amino acids, and spectators are looking at the unappetizing mess that was recently popcorn.

The Stomach sloshes the mixture around and hands the bowl off to the Small Intestine, an organ measuring about six meters in length. If all the villi—tiny finger-like projections—were spread out, they would cover an area about the size of a tennis court.

In comes bile from the liver, and trypsin, lipase and amylase from the pancreas. The intestine creates its own peptidase and multase to further break down proteins and sugars.

A little more mixing and off the disgusting mishmash goes to the Large Intestine (about one and a half meters long). Nutrients and proteins have been absorbed into the bloodstream by this time. The Intestine uses his hands to compact the substance and squeeze out the liquid.

There’s nothing left but passage through the Anus.

“Could you give us your best anus imitation?” Mr. Bauer asks Cody Powell.

He does and the show is over. The amazing trip through the digestive system has ended. Students will soon be off to the cafeteria to apply their classroom knowledge to a real-life situation.

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