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Kids Help Other Kids to Protect Their Hearing from Personal Music Devices

wers. The fist, he says, represents the body of a hair cell. The arm corresponds to the nerve connecting the hair cell to the brain. In each student's fist, he puts several pipe cleaners, which represent the stereocilia on top of each hair cell. Then he has students simulate the effects of noise on the cells. Soft sounds hitting the hair cell cause them to rub the pipe cleaners gently, while loud noise causes them to move the cleaners back and forth more violently.

After the simulation, Martin says, the pipe cleaners are misshapen and lying on their sides—giving the students a good mental image of how loud noise can permanently harm their ears—while constructing a reasonably accurate scientific model.

"It's about changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior," he says, and "empowering them to make good decisions."

Annaliisa Koski and her mother, researcher Judith Sobel, have studied educational methods for changing those attitudes and behaviors. Interestingly they are applying techniques that are used in prevention education for alcohol and drugs. The "Stages of Change" model states that individuals alter their behavior after several stages: initially not believing that the behavior is unhealthy, then becoming aware of the behavior's dangers, subsequently planning to change their behavior, then making the change, and finally, maintaining the new behavior until it becomes an unconscious habit.

Another model, known as the "Theory of Reasoned Action," takes into account the fact that young people will only adopt a new behavior if it fits into their cultural norms. "So changing the norms associated with their peer group is key," says Sobel. Koski and Sobel both plan to apply these and other education models to the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss.

Meanwhile, Genna Martin can't wait to return to her Portland, Oregon home for her Winter and Spring breaks. She plans to take Jolene out on more trips. She is e
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