Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Diabetes on Display

Last Saturday we spent the day at Boston's Museum of Science. We planned to go because they have a temporary exhibit called...

There was nothing totally new or Earth-shattering, but maybe that's just my view. Any person with, or parent of, a Type 1 Diabetic already knows most of what was on display. But I'm all for education and advocacy, so...

Here's Grace inside a giant blood vessel...

How much blood would she need for this meter...

By far the coolest part of the exhibit was a hands-on demonstration at the end. There was a bucket filled with water, and several soda cans next to it. The kids were asked if they thought the soda cans would sink or float. Then they picked a can and tested their hypothesis. And what do you know? The sugary sodas sank like a rock, and the sugar-free sodas floated! I couldn't get a great picture, but here's what I got... Regular soda contains sugar... LOTS of sugar. In some cases around 40 grams of sugar. Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, which are hundreds of times sweeter than regular sugar. This means far less artificial sweeteners are used in diet sodas. The difference in the amount of dissolved sweeteners leads to a difference in density. Cans of regular soda tend to be more dense than water, so they sink. Cans of diet soda tend to be less dense than water, so they float.

Now, I'm not advocating drinking copious amounts of diet soda, as I'm not a huge fan of artificial sweeteners. But I did think this was a cool experiment, and helpful in visually explaining how much sugar goes into soda. And who knows, it may show up at this year's Science Fair!

Overall if was a fun exhibit to take the kids to. It talked about Type 1 and Type 2 and difference between the two. It talked about diet and exercise, as well as the discovery of insulin.

We probably spent about an hour in the exhibit, then went and browsed the rest of the museum. I came across a live discussion about diabetes conducted by two doctors from Joslin. I only sat and listened for about 10 minutes, but in that time I learned that a prevailing theory on why Type 2 is on the rise is that some people have always carried the genetic trait and passed it on t0 their descendants. As industrialization has become global, and people have come indoors and become more sedentary, this trait can no longer be masked and controlled by vigorous activity. China and India show the highest increases in Type 2 diabetes, as industrialization has more recently exploded in those parts of the world.

All in all we had lots of fun, and learned some new things along the way. I don't know if it's a traveling exhibit, but if you hear about it coming near you, it's definitely worth the trip.


  1. I read about that exhibit in Diabetes Living. Glad you got to go. Not sure of it's traveling sched.

  2. That looks really cool! I hope it does travel and makes it to Seattle!

  3. I just learned about this exhibit today! Thanks for the review.

  4. SO COOL!!!!!! This is awesome :) Seeing how I won't get to see it, reading your review made it feel like I was there with you!

  5. I like that type 1 and type 2 were differentiated. The more information out there, and the more educated the public, the better off our kids will be.

    I like that soda experiment, too. I need to tuck away that idea for future science fair projects.