Thank you all so much for all the supportive comments on my post with squee about the awesome bar mitzvah. I feel really loved!
In another instance of my students being brilliant, I ran a session recently to introduce the first year medics to the concept of public health. We ended with an exercise which I found rather fun, so I thought I'd offer it to you to play:
A philanthropist is offering a grant of £250,000 to someone who can propose a way to improve the situation in a deprived housing estate. Population ~10K, annual healthcare spend roughly £100 million. The philanthropist wants to see improvements on a 30 year timescale, and wants the actual inhabitants to be involved in the project in a community building sort of way. What would you do?
I divided my students into two groups and got them to pitch their ideas to me. And I was impressed at how they came out with completely opposite solutions. One group wanted to run a really small-scale educational programme to help schoolkids and their parents to learn about healthy eating, calculating that £250K over 30 years amounts to about £8000 per year and trying to keep within that budget. The other group suggested using the money as seed funding to attract new businesses to the area, aiming to create jobs and increase the tax income so that local facilities could be improved. I think both of those ideas are somewhat unrealistic, but this is a bunch of mostly teenagers, and I really liked both the group who thought about just how far a quarter of a million will (won't) stretch when you're dealing with entrenched social problems, and their colleagues who thought about dealing with some of the root causes of poverty and deprivation.
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