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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Madison Henrie can't watch as her teacher, Libby Jacobsen, cuts open a fish as sixth-graders at Sunset Elementary School mummify fish during a hands-on lesson about ancient Egypt on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, in Sunset.
I always try to make it around Halloween. It's fun, and the kids look forward to it. —Libby Jacobsen

SUNSET — Just in time for Halloween, students at Sunset Elementary School were busy making mummies Tuesday during a hands-on lesson about ancient Egypt.

The sixth-grade students, in groups of four, were charged with mummifying a fish. Their teacher, Libby Jacobsen, handled the cutting of the fish, but then it was up to the students to remove the internal organs and separate them into labeled jars.

"I always try to make it around Halloween," Jacobsen said. "It's fun, and the kids look forward to it."

In a recreation of the Egyptian process, students used drawn diagrams to locate the heart, intestines, liver, gills and stomach of the fish. The heart was placed back into the fish, which had been dried and coated in vinegar, while the remaining organs were dried, coated in a mixture of baking soda and salt, and stored in the jars.

Some of the fish were then wrapped in gauze and buried. After 70 days, when the mummification process is completed, the fish will be unearthed and examined in another class period.

Jacobsen said the lesson was a success, but at least two students got squeamish and needed to take a break.

"For a lot of these kids, it's the first time they ever see an animal's insides," she said. "It's the smell, most of all, that freaks them out."

Benjamin Wood