The Baby Project: 'This is a lot harder than I thought it would be'

The Baby Project: 'This is a lot harder than I thought it would be'

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - The Baby Project aims to give high school students a glimpse into the world of parenthood.

Students at Thurston High School take home mechanical babies - and they’re graded on how well they take care of them.

So when the mechanical baby starts crying ...

“I feed it first,” said senior Jessica Harper. “If that doesn’t stop crying, then I try a diaper.”

Jessica is learning the unfamiliar sounds of a newborn as she tries to figure out her baby’s routine.

“It doesn't matter what you're doing. Driving, walking to class or even doing homework in class,” she says.

Jessica has had her baby for three days and admits it was harder than she thought.

“It really just taught me that you have to be ready and dedicated with a child because you have to stop your life to take care of it," she said. "It doesn't understand what school is and what work is.  It just knows that its hungry or needs its diaper changed."

Susan Reeder teaches the Child Development class at Thurston High School and hopes the baby project shows teens what their lives would really be like with a baby.

“After they have the baby, I ask them, ‘What do you think and how did it go?’ And the reaction is typically 'This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I didn't get the amount of sleep, I'm really tired, I couldn't get anything else done',” Reeder said.
Each baby has a computer inside that’s connected to a bracelet that the student wears on his or her wrist.

Students are graded on several criteria.

The computer tracks how long the baby cries before the student calms it down. “It also keeps track of any type of wrong position whether that's the head or neck or whether the baby is turned upside down, whether the baby is bumped or dropped,” Reeder said.

Each student does a self evaluation and their parents do a write up too.

Reeder said she hopes the project makes them stop and think before making a life altering decision.