Broken Babies?

Life skills baby project postponed due to malfunctioning babies


Angie Bleau / Talon

Angie Bleau, News Editor



The baby project is well-known among seniors who take the Life Skills course at OPHS. This project aims to teach the students about parenting for a 24-hour period. 

“The baby project is a required assignment within the Life Skills course curriculum. Students must take care of a RealCare [electronic] Baby, which cries at random intervals and needs round-the-clock attention on the part of its teen ‘parent’ over a 24-hour period. When the baby cries, the student must either attempt rocking, bottle-feeding or a diaper change to get the baby to stop crying,” social sciences teacher Chris Meyer said. 

The dolls may look like  standard dolls purchasable at a local Target; inside each doll, however, is a computer that syncs up to a system that the teacher has access to. The computer system inside keeps track of “mishandles,” or actions that would harm a normal baby, and will consequently take points off.  When the doll cries, the new parent has a given time slot to make it stop crying before points are taken off and contributed to a student’s final grade. 

For the first group of new parents, they had a tougher time than expected. The dolls were crying even after they were no longer active, taking much longer than they should have to stop crying.

“The first few hours, it was perfectly fine and the first time it cried I was able to tend to it, but it started to make a noise which kept on going off for the rest of the night. By the time I realized that it was a glitch, I gave up and put some hoodies on top of it and just slept through the noise,” senior Leo Kim said. 

When the students returned the babies the next morning, the computer systems inside them linked to Meyer’s computer and he was able to view the glitch himself. 

“Several of the babies were experiencing an electronic malfunction, mostly due to the fact that some of them are out of warranty and require replacement. Those dolls will most likely be replaced next semester (assuming district funds are made available), and the babies that continue to function properly are being used by the students this semester to complete the project,” Meyer said. 

Since the malfunction took place, the project was postponed — many of the babies were clearly in need of naptime. The students who were in the first round of new parents are allowed to redo the project if their baby was one of the five of the nine babies that were malfunctioning.

“So far, no malfunctions (knock on wood!). We’re keeping our fingers crossed that all students this semester will have the opportunity to experience the simulation without further technical issues,” Meyer said.