A group of seventh graders in the Entrepreneurship Elective have created a medical kit, which will enable sufficiently trained medics or healers to perform appendectomies in locations where patients may otherwise die. Named the ERA kit or Emergency Response Appendectomy kit -- which carries the tagline a new era in medical accessibility -- includes all the materials necessary for the surgery. The kit will cost about $34, and contains supplies such as easy-to-follow instructions, sponges, scissors, and pain medicine. Once the project is complete, which will likely be sometime next year, students will send their ERA kits to African villages.
The students arrived at the idea for the medical kits because they wanted to address a problem they saw in the world. Each year, more than 40,000 people in Africa are diagnosed with appendicitis, a potentially fatal condition. In less fortunate countries, getting to the hospital quickly can be impossible, and treatment can be costly.
To create the kits, students first had to consider many issues. For example, they researched how appendectomies are performed. In the United States, they are now generally done with laparoscopic surgery, which costs as much as $50,000, so they ruled out this technique. They also planned how to keep the kit's cost relatively low, and contacted factories in Africa to compile and produce kits. The Entrepreneurship elective pupils also addressed how to fund the venture, so they applied for a $25,000-grant from Global Partners in Anesthesia and Surgery. In August, they will learn if they've received the grant. To help promote their idea, students also launched a website.
During development of the kit, students learned and exercised an abundance of skills such as brainstorming, planning, projecting profits, and more. Each student had something unique to share regarding what they’ve learned.
Ananya -- who remarked that she is very proud of the kit -- said she is pleased by all the different skills she has acquired. “You’re constantly moving onto the next thing, it’s like completing a puzzle,” she said. “This project is a combination of everything I love. It has helped me build as a mathematician, and a business person.”
Matt said he was surprised to learn the similarities between running a nonprofit and a for-profit business. “I thought a nonprofit model would be different,” he said. “But the amount of our donations is our profit, so it’s kind of similar.” Jared also found the business aspects intriguing. “I think it’s interesting to learn about business models,” he said. “For example, how to make a spreadsheet, gross margins, gross profit, and brainstorming.”
Jackie gained knowledge about the factors one must consider when launching a product. “I took this class because most schools don’t offer it, and I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship -- how to patent, what’s a gross margin, how to determine your profit,” she said. “Steve [Westwood] and Kim [Saxe] are so helpful. They supported us in doing the project, and in how to do it.”
Jonathan gained a greater understanding of what it takes to collaborate and how it ultimately benefits a project. “I’ve learned that working in a group can be hard, especially when you’re not top dog,” he said. “But if everyone gets along you can do something that benefits the world.”
Daniela saw how the planning process helped her in other classes. “I’ve learned how important it is to have a specific plan,” she said. “We had to have a specific written plan agreed on by everyone and what we want to accomplish when. It really helped me organize.”
The seventh grade team also acknowledged that the project will extend into next school year. The students may consider the ERA kit project for their Eighth Grade Recital Projects so stay tuned for developments!