Playing doctor is taking on a whole new meaning through a new product which Mountain Top Toys is the first store in the area to carry.
Signal Mountain podiatrist Dr. Bob Spalding, vice president of marketing for Scalpel Art Supply, said the program uses painting to teach anatomy to students as young as kindergartners up to the college level.
The kit includes scalpel-shaped paint brushes, which the student uses to color in anatomical drawings from textbooks and other sources.
The program is already being used by several schools, including Lincoln Memorial University and J. Frank White Academy in Harrogate, Tenn., and St. Nicholas School in Louisville, Ky., said program developer Dr. David Velarde, also a podiatrist.
"The shape of the scalpel gives a certain feel along with the brush, so as they are tracing the drawings they are learning the technique of holding the scalpel while learning anatomy at the same time," said Spalding.
He said studies at the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine have shown that a knowledge of art is useful in teaching the dexterity skills necessary to hold a scalpel with the proper pressure and precision.
Students can go to the Scalpel Art Supply website (scalpelartsupply.com) to download a range of anatomical drawings which can be printed onto the parchment paper included in the kit.
Appropriate for ages 6 and up, material is available in its simplest form for kindergarten through fifth grade, such as basic anatomical drawings of Godzilla or an alligator. Far more complex drawings intended for serious students of anatomy are also provided and divided by profession, with categories including everything from dental hygiene to optometry.
Along with brushes and paper, the kit also includes six acrylic paints in primary colors for students to color in their drawings and reinforce their knowledge of anatomy. For those who really want to get into the theme, the kit comes with a surgical gown, mask and foot covers sized for either adults or children.
"They love putting the surgical gowns on," said Velarde of the students he has observed using the product.