Monday, March 30, 2009

How to gross out a 6th grader

Did you know that 23% of Americans secretly bite their toenails? It's one of my favorite statistics and one I share with almost everyone I meet. Oddly enough, the #1 question that comes out of every adult's mouth is, "How do you get your foot inside your mouth?" Kids don't ask this questions, mostly because most kids can easily get their foot into their mouth, as several of my students proved today (don't ask).

However, the #1 question most kids ask is "How many Americans openly bite their toenails?" I still crack up laughing when they ask me this, even though it comes up regularly. I keep getting this image in my head of a couple at a restaurant, talking. One person says, "Hold on a moment", pulls their sock off and proceeds to chew off a hangnail on their big toe. It's an image that brings me several minutes of humor every time I contemplate it.

Here are some other facts I like to gross out 6th graders with:

Did you ever notice that even a warm McDonald's shake is still thick? That's because traditional McDonalds shakes used to be thickened with a clay substance that humans could safely consume. Unfortunately, two things caused McDonalds to change their formula. First, the clay substance had a tendency to expand when heated, which was a problem if it happened to be in your stomach. Bloating and pain could be a common symptom. Second, the public found out about the clay and threw a fit about it. Last I checked, McDonalds uses seaweed to thicken their shakes (look for the difference between "shake" and "milkshake". You cannot call a shake a milkshake if it doesn't actually have any milk in it)

Your sense of smell works when tiny airborne particles of a substance come in contact with smell receptors in your nose. Your brain interprets the chemical signal sent by the receptors as belonging to a particular smell. Your brain knows the chemical signatures of thousands of substances. You literally have pieces of that substance in your nose, so think about that the next time you catch a whiff of dog poop or someone's BO.

Snapple's Strawberry Kiwi fruit drink used to have an ingredient called Carmine, which consisted of the ground up Cochineal Beetle shells. Like McDonalds and it's clay derivatives, Snapple stopped using the ingredient when the public discovered the source, but carmine is still used in some pink-colored yogurts and pink grapefruit juices.

Flowers are how plants have sex.

Honey is largely made of masticated pollen and bee spit.

Humans pass an average of a pint of gas daily.

On average, you consume 8 spiders each year, mostly in your sleep.

You swallow one quart of snot every day.

Ancient Greeks used urine to clean their clothes. It was considered so valuable that Greeks paid part of their taxes in urine.

See why I like teaching middle schoolers? They love being grossed out.

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