On Tuesday, my day off, I visited the LEAP (Learners’ Expanded (?) Academic Potential = Gifted/Talented) class in my hometown of Kilgore. I went to LEAP as a kid once a week all through elementary school. This time, I returned as a doctor to talk to the class.
I was expecting the room to be much smaller than I remembered it. Maybe it was because I’d prepared mentally for that, I was rather underwhelmed with the discrepancy. Really, things seemed about the same, only now there are computers in the two classrooms in LEAP’s portable building.
The fourth-graders I spoke to were charming–bright, interested, and full of questions! Though half the time, when the children raised their hands they had more of a story than a question. I think adults do this too, but they’re just more sophisticated about it.
The kiddoes are starting a unit on economics, so I did a little research to share. The U.S. spends 1.7 trillion dollars on health care annually (in 2003), and 180 billion of this is on prescription medications. The entire GDP of the U.S. is 11 trillion dollars. I wanted to help them get a feel for how big these numbers were, so I started by drawing a “1” on the chalkboard, followed by zero after zero. The kid who stood up when I’d drawn enough zeros to represent one trillion got to help me demonstrate the physical exam.
We also talked about what kind of doctors there are, the education involved in becoming a doctor, and the common health problems confronting the U.S. (smoking, diet habits, little exercise) –> (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer) –> (a multitude of medical problems including heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, amputations, blindness)
All in all, it was quite rewarding and fun. Here’s a picture of Peyton, the boy who knows how big a trillion is. He was a good sport as I showed them how to listen to heart and lung sounds and elicit reflexes.