RIVERDALE -- Denise Collings shared her knowledge with students at Good Foundations Academy, and the children touched her heart.
But not before donning surgical gloves, of course.
Sixty fourth-graders at the charter school spent an hour of their Valentine's Day learning about hearts -- and arteries and veins, thanks to Collings, a registered nurse at McKay-Dee Hospital Surgical Center.
Highlights of Collings' presentation included the chance to use stethoscopes, to examine a plastic model of a heart and to have a hands-on encounter with a fresh, 20-pound beef heart.
"It was very gross and bloody, but it was a good learning experience," said Gage Wright, 9. "I thought it was very cool."
Teacher Barb Robbins said fourth-graders were scheduled to learn about the cardiovascular system, and Collings is the mother of student Grace Collings, 10.
"And doing it on Valentines' Day seemed like a great fit," Robbins said.
The nurse talked about ventricles and atria, auricles and valves. She kept her audience rapt while talking about how many 2-liter soda bottles it would take to hold all the blood in the body. (Answer: two to three.)
Collings suggested children adopt a healthful diet, with more fruits and vegetables and less chicken nuggets and fries.
No one having a heart attack should drive to the hospital, Collings warned, and people should never ignore the potential symptoms of a heart attack.
A 60-voice chorus rang out with "Ewww" when Collings unwrapped the beef heart, donated by Weber State University. She walked it around the room for closer inspection and optional poking.
"If I got a heart like that as a Valentine, first I would faint, then I would scream, then I would find out who gave it to me and yell at him," said Faith Christiansen, 9.
"If someone asked me for my heart, I wouldn't give it. You need your heart to live. I'd say, 'Give it back.' "
Collings' daughter hadn't seen a lot of beef hearts.
"At least the heart is red, like a Valentine's heart," Grace said. "And it was funny to hear everyone say, 'Ewww.' "
Gage speculated that people think hearts are romantic because they are a vital organ. But did he, personally, find the drippy heart romantic?
"No," he said with a grimace. "Not really."
After the assembly, Isaiah Bailey, 9, headed back to his classroom to open his Valentine's box.
"It was pretty cool," he said about seeing the beef heart. "It's interesting that 'heart' can mean such different things."
And the lesson he took away from the experience?
"Never touch a body part that is not yours without putting on rubber gloves."