Plastic fantastic

20th February 2009 at 00:00

I was thrilled to read the article "Plastinated bodies enter the classroom" (February 13). In the late 1990s I was lucky enough to work at the highly successful and innovative Compton School in Finchley, London, as head of science.

One of my close friends was the chief PR to a little known "odd-ball" doctor from Germany called Gunther von Hagens. I managed to get an invite to Dr von Hagens' amazing exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane.

While being enthralled by the beauty of the plasticised bodies, I thought how much my students would love it. Cheekily, my friend asked Dr von Hagens and I asked my headteacher if we could have a mini exhibition at school.

A week later, a white van turned up in the car park, full of plasticised body parts, driven by Gunther himself. The students were blown away by what they saw. Seeing a real, human, diseased lung compared to a healthy one had such an impact on one pupil she immediately walked from the van to a nearby bin, took out a packet of cigarettes from her bag and threw them away. To this day I still have ex-pupils contacting me via Facebook remembering their experience of this exhibit.

Russell Plester, Assistant headteacher, Bournville School Sixth Form Centre, Birmingham.

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