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Eight things to do at CMOM's "EatSleepPlay" Exhibit

Kids can learn new ways to kick-start a healthy lifestyle at the Children's Museum of Manhattan's newest exhibit.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

Photograph: Marielle Solan

Children's Museum of Manhattan Eat Sleep Play Exhibit

If the folks at the Children's Museum of Manhattan have their way, every kid in America will fill half their plate with vegetables at mealtimes, get more than enough shut-eye and exercise daily. Their healthy living initiative began three years ago with a call from the National Institutes of Health, asking for help battling childhood obesity. The result: "EatSleepPlay: Building Health Every Day," a long-term exhibit opening this month that puts kids inside the bodily organs—and in touch with all their glorious functions—they are tasked with protecting. "This is the biggest project we've ever been involved in," says Andy Ackerman, CMOM's executive director, who also worked with the NIH on a healthy living curriculum that has already been tested in the South Bronx, incorporated into some city Head Start programs and presented to First Lady Michelle Obama. "We wanted to affect lives and change policy with this exhibit," he adds. "But we also wanted kids to have fun." Here are eight things young visitors won't want to miss on their way to a better lifestyle.

START IN THE DECISION CENTER
Kids enter the exhibit by crawling through a mouth into a giant head. There, up to six players compete to stay in the best shape by picking healthy objects over unhealthy ones in an interactive game. (Warning: Choose a cigarette and the entire world goes dark.)

STOP UNWANTED MARKETING MESSAGES
Outside the Decision Center, children flip switches to reveal the hidden sugar, salt and fat in soft drinks and fast food, the dangers of cigarettes and how nutrition labels provide the truth behind misleading packaging.

TAKE A JOURNEY THROUGH THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Little ones try to stop the cascade of food when the stomach is 80 percent full, then travel to the intestines, where a game explains how nutrients are absorbed into the body.

EXAMINE THE ROYAL FLUSH
"This is probably the only exhibit in the world where you learn by staring into a toilet bowl," Ackerman says. Kids not only examine the products of a healthy colon, but hear the bodily noises that accompany their proper function.

POWER THE HEART
By pumping the two sides—one healthy, the other unhealthy—of a giant heart, tots see how bad food choices and lack of exercise can hinder the heart's ability to circulate blood around the body.

CATCH SOME Z'S
Kids are challenged to memorize and repeat a bedtime routine—shut off the television, drink milk, brush their teeth—in a computer-generated sequence of steps that grows longer with every round. In the Sleep Deprivation Zone, they compete in a foosball game that pits a well-rested team against a very tired opponent.

MEET THE SUPER SPROWTZ
The youngest visitors interact with a team of superpowered vegetable heroes at the huge interactive NYC Green Cart. They can also move fruits and veggies on a conveyor belt and careen down a banana slide. "You can't start a healthy lifestyle early enough," acknowledges Ackerman.

PLAY ALL DAY
At a series of stations, kids burn energy by ducking lasers, balancing on a beam, spinning an arm cycle, pedaling a Zike (think bicycle meets elliptical machine) and competing in a Whack-A-Mole--like game. They'll learn that a family that plays together stays healthy together.

"EatSleepPlay: Building Health Every Day" opens at the Children's Museum of Manhattan on Nov 11.

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