Imaginative hospital initiatives from pupils

Hospital rooms with walls that can screen any landscape image you want, bean bags on wheels instead of wheelchairs, and llamas to pat and take wool from to knit scarves and hats for children with cancer - it is amazing what young and inventive minds can come up with when they are unencumbered by limitations and budgets.

The initiatives are among many dreamed up by pupils at Kaikorai, Maori Hill, Balmacewen Intermediate, Halfway Bush, and Wakari schools, for the new Dunedin Hospital.

The schools received more than $300,000 of Otago Community Trust funding for a Project Based Learning (PBL) programme which allowed pupils to visit existing Southern District Health Board facilities, and consult with clinicians and others involved in the new Dunedin Hospital building project.

A trust spokeswoman said the PBL approach placed an emphasis on pupils working on "real-world" problems that have an impact on their own communities.

Maori Hill School pupils Ben Man and Abi Brown (both 6) have programmed a Bee-Bot to navigate a...
Maori Hill School pupils Ben Man and Abi Brown (both 6) have programmed a Bee-Bot to navigate a model of Dunedin’s new hospital during an exhibition at the Dunedin Community Gallery. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
She said it allowed the pupils to tackle some of the challenges the new Dunedin Hospital project faced, using augmented and virtual reality, App development, robotics, room designs, and health and wellbeing solutions.

The culmination of their efforts was put on public display at an exhibition in the Dunedin Community Gallery yesterday.

Hatch Education PBL specialist and director Phillipa Dick said the pupils were encouraged to have "blue sky" thinking, and their ability to connect with a real-world experience and real-world experts was invaluable.

"Many of our young people will, in fact, have jobs either in the build or running of this hospital."

The innovations provided food for thought for leaders on the rebuild programme.

New Dunedin Hospital programme director Mike Barns said he was thrilled with the results of the partnership involving the new build project, Hatch Education and the Hills Cluster of Dunedin schools.

"Engaging young minds and developing students’ connections to new thinking in healthcare and this large project, is something we’re proud of, and will continue to foster."

The exhibition continues at the Dunedin Community Gallery today, from 9am-5pm.

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