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Kids' project educates participants on preservation, mummification

Because nothing says "unlimited potential" quite like a cold, dead fish, it is perhaps not obvious that your best option, when confronted with one, is to bury it in cat litter.

Such practical advice is the subject of "Mummify a Fish," which, although it would be a great name for a band, is in fact a hands-on class happening on Sunday, February 25, at the Arizona Science Center. Open to children between the ages of 6 and 12, it's an encore of the "Mummify a Fish" class that was presented two weeks ago. The first class, says Jean Colton, coordinator of children's programs at the center, "was an absolutely wonderful time."

"We're looking at different ways ancient communities preserved things, from their food to their dead," Colton says of this month's educational focus. "Mummify a Fish" treats the latter: Kids who attend can see animal corpses in various stages of mummification. Participants take home their own dead fish, dead octopus or chicken foot, which, when fully desiccated or at any point before, they are not encouraged to eat.

Joe Forkan

Details

Scheduled from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, February 25. The cost of the drop-in class is $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers. For information call 602-716-2028.
Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington

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"What we're basically doing," Colton explains, "is looking at how the Egyptians mummified their dead." The bodies are obtained at a local Asian market, according to "whatever's in season and whatever's cheapest." Then they're packed with salt, baking soda and cat litter -- "the new kind of cat litter," Colton notes, "the kind that looks like big crystals." Although it's obviously not traditional, the cat litter "does take care of the smell." Properly maintained, the fish should be mummified in less than two months.

"They look really neat when they're done," Colton says. "They're almost completely in their normal form."

Colton says the aim of her education program is "to focus on the process of science." But what do kids do with the product?

"Whatever they want," she says.

Just don't eat it.

 
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