Annual electronic babies assignment takes Family Consumer Sceience students by storm

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Steam filled the bathroom as hot water poured out of the shower head. She wet her hair, reached for the shampoo and began to lather the suds into her long curly tresses. Just as she was massaging the shampoo into her hair, a cry rang out. She froze, let out a loud grunt of frustration. She opened the shower curtain, propped a bottle on the crying baby and returned to her shower. Five seconds later, cries rang out again.
She developed a plan; rinsed her hair quickly, rocked baby with one arm out of the shower for three seconds, conditioned hair as fast as humanly possible, rocked the baby for seconds more before it could cry, and washed her body at the same time.
A requirement for the second semester of Family and Consumer Science teacher Lola Pepper’s Child Development class finds students taking on the responsibility of caring for an electronic baby. These babies are as close as it comes to the real thing, minus the major bodily functions. The babies cry, require feedings, and need changing and burping.
Students are given a baby of their choice for three days. They must take care of the baby during the entire school day, as well as at home.
“The purpose of the babies is to teach students how much time is involved in taking care of a baby,” Pepper said.
Some may argue that carrying a baby during school hours is not realistic, because a real teen parent would not have to bring their child to school, but Pepper says the students will learn “how much care is to be given to [the babies] while [students] would be at work or at school.”
Senior Rochelle Hall recently completed caring for a RealCare Baby. She believes that the program did teach her that “babies are hard to take care of if you have no partner and go to school full-time,” but she does not believe that caring for an electronic baby is a good way to learn about parenting.
“If you had a kid, you would more than likely have help, and would certainly not take it to class.” Hall said.
Though she doesn’t feel that the program helps to learn about parenting, she does believe that the program helped her to realize she doesn’t want to have a child young.
“Trying to go to school and have a baby is almost impossible,” Hall said.
RealCare Baby is a nationally recognized teen pregnancy program that tries to get students to realize exactly what Hall recognized. Even though some of Pepper’s students have gotten pregnant after the exercise, Pepper believes it is because student’s hormones overrule their logical thinking.
“There is no teen pregnancy program that is going to be 100% effective,” Pepper said.
The RealCare Baby program is a better program than some that have been used in the past.
“I think it’s an excellent way to show responsibility other than carrying an egg for a week, or a sack of flour,” Pepper said.
Hall, who didn’t disagree, thinks a more effective way to get teens to think twice about having unprotected sex is “wearing a baby bump for a week.”
The Lifetime network premiered a movie in which a high-school student faked her pregnancy for a senior project. She wore a baby bump and wrote down the observations and accusations fellow students and teachers said about her.
While it would be hard for several students a semester to fake a pregnancy, it would be just as hard for them to take on an extra thirty pounds such as any pregnant woman would. Once the students experienced what being pregnant feels like, maybe they would think again about the choices their hormones lead them to make.

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