Last Wednesday, Austin (my 8th grader) brought home a "Think It Over Baby" for his Life Skills class. These life-like dolls are about the size of a real infant. They weigh 6 1/2 pounds and have floppy heads that need to be supported just like a real baby. The high-tech dolls are programmed to cry and fuss at all hours of the day and night. The only way to stop the crying is for the student to hold their wristband with a special key in it (that's applied by the teacher and can't be removed without obvious tampering), up to the doll's back until it beeps. When it beeps, the student needs to figure out if the baby needs to be fed, have his diaper changed, be burped, or be rocked. The student then places the bottle, with a sensor in it, against the baby's mouth, or they change the diaper, also with a sensor, etc. until the baby coos and falls back asleep.
These dolls are also equipped with indicators that record the student's activity with the doll. Did they feed him? Change him? Support his neck? Or did they get frustrated with the crying and throw the doll outside for the night? The data recorded on the doll lets the teacher know if the student properly cared for the "baby" and determines their grade on this assignment.
Austin had a hard time at first, trying to figure out how exactly the doll worked. He didn't get the key on his wristband to connect with the doll's back at first and the doll's cries escalated into full-blown screams. Despite the fact that Austin's gone through 5 siblings' screaming and crying fits over the years, listening to this doll scream really stressed him out. The next morning, he said that he didn't sleep all night because he was worried about missing the doll's cries. LOL! Welcome to parenthood! Now multiply those feeling 100 times for a real baby.
This program is designed to make kids stop and think it over before engaging in sexual activity. I think most all students would agree that getting up all night with the baby was not fun and they're not ready to be parents. Still, I don't think this program (at least not by itself) will actually deter kids when it comes right down to it. This little assignment reminded me, however, of why I'm done having babies.