MED2000 students bring creative flair to learning emergency procedures

PBL Group K won the sand sculpture challenge with their Kyphosaurus Notredamus.

20 February 2014

With an exhibition to rival that of Sculpture by the Sea, second year students from The University of Notre Dame Australia's School of Medicine in Sydney have used a public display to emphasise the importance of team work, creative thinking and time management in emergency procedures.

The 120 students worked in teams during the annual orientation camp to produce 15 larger-than-life sandcastles on Collaroy Beach. The activity was designed to help students build camaraderie; highlight the importance of team work in medicine; and further develop intuition and critical thinking skills which are integral for any health-related career.

"The students must build a sand sculpture that represents the first letter of their learning group for the year, and displays their creative flair," Professor Christine Bennett, Dean of the School of Medicine Sydney said.

"The activity happens first thing in the morning and gets the students to start thinking as a team, on their feet and under time pressure – all skills needed to work in emergency situations. It is also a nice surprise to early morning beach-goers!" "We had to come up with an idea starting with the assigned letter of our group, K," said Daniel Schlosberg from the winning PBL group.

"The idea of kyphosis [an abnormally rounded spine] started as a joke as we thought it would be too hard to make a kyphotic person, but Rose found a picture of a sculpted dinosaur skeleton and we went from there. Sofia thought of the name Kyphosaurus Notredamus, and we finished it off with a few archaeological props like our plaque and paint brush."

The sand sculpture challenge is part of a two-day camp at Collaroy during which students learn key emergency skills including CPR, airways management and intubation. The practical nature of the camp reflects that of the Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at Notre Dame, where the Problem Based Learning (PBL) model is an integral part of the curriculum.

PBL is an education model in which a clinical problem sets the context for the students' learning of content material. In groups of eight, students explore a series of these problems, supported by lectures, practical sessions, and private study. Problem-solving, communication, and team work are at the centre of groups' success.

More information about the School of Medicine Sydney and Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery can be found at

Hannah Guilfoyle: Tel (02) 8204 4141;