Medical Mysteries

By Robin Sitarski

Focus Group: Junior High and High School students


Body parts in jars (or pictures if these cannot be obtained):
Whatever else is available
Brief description of each body part and a few facts on diseases and such
Reading list of medical fiction and non-fiction
Internet question sheet


  1. Schedule the activity and seek a nearby medical school to provide the necessary body parts in jars of embalming fluid, hopefully with a student or intern to accompany and explain them to students.
  2. Develop a reading list based on medical fiction and non-fiction available in the collection. Read several of them and prepare to do a booktalk.
  3. Create a sheet for the kids to look at as they are waiting for the program to begin. This should contain weird medical facts and mysteries to peak their interest. Be prepared to touch on some of the information on the sheet during the program.
  4. Find several appropriate sites on the Internet dealing with medical mysteries and diseases. Develop a question sheet with answers that can be found at the selected sites to be completed at the library or to be passed out as a handout for further study at home.
  5. Contact teachers if in a school library setting to arrange for their classes to visit the exhibit.
  6. If in a public library setting, advertise well in advance of the event and send invitations to local scout troops and other young adult organizations inviting them to reserve a time for their group to visit.

The Activity:

  1. Have the young adults pick up a fact sheet as they come in. Request that they sit and look it over for a few minutes while waiting for the program to begin.
  2. Begin the program by re-iterating the to the group the topic of the program and by introducing your guest (if one is present) and thanking the appropriate institution for loan of their materials (jars or pictures).
  3. Ask the kids to raise their hands if there was a particular fact on the sheet they were interested in.
  4. Call on them one at a time and elaborate on whichever fact they want to discuss. This elaboration could be:
    a. a booktalk
    b. a description of the body part in the jar by the medical student or yourself, or
    c. a reference to the website the information came from.
  5. After addressing however many things from the list time will permit, leaving 10 to 15 minutes to spare:
    a. thank the students for their participation
    b. thank your guest again
    c. pass out the Internet question sheets and explain them.
  6. Invite the kids to come up and have a closer look at the specimens, check out materials from the booktalk cart/shelf/table and ask questions.


  1. Ask teachers to fill out evaluation forms of the activity including:
    a. content
    b. length
    c. interest of students
    d. booktalks
    e. suggestions for future activities
  2. Note number of booktalk books checked out
  3. Note how many students come up for a closer look and ask questions


  1. Blostein, Fay. Invitations, celebrations: ideas and techniques for promoting reading in Junior and Senior High Schools. Rev. ed. Neal-Schuman, 1993.
  2. Bodart, Joni. Booktalk 3: Booktalking for All Ages and Audiences . New York: H. W. Wilson, 1988.
  3. Donelson, Kenneth L. and Allen Pace Nilsen. Literature for Today's Young Adults. 5th ed. HarperCollins, 1996.
  4. Lefstein, Leah M. and Joan Lipsitz. 3:00 to 6:00: Programs for Young Adolescents . 2nd ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, Center for Early Adolescence, 1986.

NOTE: Though I read many of the activities and chapters in these books, I did not quote or cite them in my paper. From my reading, I got ideas on style and things of that nature that cannot be directly acknowledged.

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This page last updated May 10, 2001
© 2001 Daphne Jorgensen. All Rights Reserved