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In the latest edition


Poppy memorial

Ceramic Poppies At Tower Of London© InfoAn estimated four million people have visited the poppy art installation at the Tower of London.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas Of Red by ceramic artist Paul Cummins is made up of 888,246 hand-made ceramic poppies.

Discuss why the installation is so popular, and moving.

How significant is it that each poppy represents someone who died serving in the British or Colonial military in the First World War?

Talk about the way that art can communicate in unique ways. The installation will not be permanent - transience is part of the artist's message. Can young people describe why they think transience might be an important element of this piece of art?  

Invite young people to name other art works that have been used for remembrance. Include other forms, such as poetry and music.

If young people wanted to do a local version of the installation how would they plan it? What would be the best site? Why?

Where would they find details of local soldiers who served in the First World War? How would they let their community know about the event? And what would their message be?



Ebola treatment centre

A healthworker puts on protective clothing in an Ebola treatment centre in Kenema Sierra Leone© InfoMedical services in West Africa overstretched by the Ebola virus are being supported by outside help, including some funded by the UK government and public donations.

An 80-bed treatment centre, the first of six new centres for the region, opened this month in Sierra Leone. Experts estimate there are just 326 treatment beds in Sierra Leone.

Ask young people to imagine planning a treatment centre. What facilities do they think it should contain?

List the different elements. One need is for isolation beds for confirmed patients with Ebola. But there also needs to be a blood testing lab, waiting rooms, areas for families.

After discussion see the graphic provided by the UK aid department

What might some reasons be for providing humanitarian aid in crisis situations like a health epidemic? Invite young people to share ideas.



Rescue at sea

Aerial view of a boat in the Pacific ocean© InfoA fisherman from Colombia survived two days at sea after his boat capsized.

Invite young people to think about the experience. What might those two days have been like? What would have been the dangers? What might be the best survival strategy?

Solano Salazar, 47, was fishing with a friend when their boat overturned in bad weather.

He clung to a portable polystyrene foam cooler and floated 35 kilometres off the coast in the Pacific Ocean.

Solano Salazar told reporters that he'd thought he was going to die. "I didn't think about anything else".

Some people think being positive always helps. Do students agree?

Solano was rescued by a navy team who happened to be undergoing exercises in the area. Discuss the likely emotions of the person who first spotted him. What might they have said to colleagues? What would the response be?

How might Solano have felt when he saw the boat?


Previous editions of newsthink


Volcano rescue

Rescue workers and Self Defence Force soldiers searching for missing climbers and survivors among ash covered mountain cottages on the top of Mount Ontake 28 September 2014© InfoMore than 250 hikers were on the peak of Japan's Mount Ontake when the volcano unexpectedly erupted at the end of September. Discuss the challenges faced by the response teams. This was a mountain rescue, with many casualties, in conditions that included toxic gases, smoke and ash.

The rescue operation involved hundreds of workers. Talk about the different specialist teams and equipment needed. How would young people approach a rescue operation in this environment?

Think about the support teams as well as those directly helping. How can food, drink and an opportunity to rest be supplied in treacherous conditions for 500 people on a 3,000-metre mountain - more than twice as high as Ben Nevis?

Think too about emotional help, called psycho-social support by aid agencies. Some survivors were physically unharmed, but had seen family or friends buried by volcanic ash. There were anxious relatives desperate for news. Discuss practical assistance that could make a difference.



Words of wisdom

Brooke Vincent holds a sign which reads Treat others how you want to be treated as part of the NSPCC childhoodwisdom campaign© InfoIf at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again. Does such advice help people? Invite opinions on the sayings that adults use to pass wisdom to children.

Guess which maxims were most popular in a recent survey by children's charity the NSPCC. "Practice makes perfect" headed the list. Ask young people to share sayings that they know. Have these words of wisdom helped them cope with challenging situations?

"Treat others how you'd like to be treated", which came second in the poll, is an ancient ethical principle sometimes known as the golden rule. Could this be a be useful way to think about helping someone in a crisis? Explain why.

Some sayings are warnings, others are encouragements. Which type do young people prefer to hear? Which are they more likely to pass on to others? Talk about how you acquire wisdom. Is it mainly from words, actions or experiences?



Tornado in Derbyshire

Destruction of property after a tornado hit Alfreton Derbyshire© InfoImagine returning home one afternoon and finding a tornado has ripped the entire roof off your house. That's what happened to William Sitch from Alfreton, Derbyshire in early October.

What would be young people's first reaction? Would they enter the damaged building? What would they be most concerned to retrieve? Ask them to map out their next moves - who they would call, where they would go, what they would take?

Tornadoes in the UK are freak events, with around 30 reported a year, generally much weaker than those in the USA. Talk about preparing for events which are unlikely to happen but would have a dramatic impact. Invite young people to suggest different ways they could prepare for different types of emergenies.

Discuss the conditions that can lead to tornadoes - warm moist air rising and meeting cold air. Why do thunderstorms commonly happen in the late afternoon? If you lived in a country where tornadoes were common, how would your life be different?


People power

Commuters tilt train to free a trapped man© InfoA man called Andy from Perth, Australia stumbled as he was getting on a crowded commuter train last month. His leg wedged between the platform edge and the carriage of a 90-tonne train. 

Staff struggled to free him for ten minutes or more. Then a woman had an idea. If everyone pushed the carriages it could relieve the pressure on Andy's leg. Ask who thinks this would work.

It did work, very quickly. Serious injury and a long delay for commuters were averted. The resulting video of people power was broadcast around the world.

Talk about inventiveness and improvisation. Would students have had the idea? How would they have communicated it to the train staff? Sometimes people don't try things because they think they won't work. When might this be a mistake? 

The train tilt depended on a lot of people helping. What motivates us to help strangers?

Andy was amazed when he discovered the incident was reported worldwide. Can you explain the appeal?


Ice bucket challenge

Participants tip buckets of ice water over their heads as they take part in the World Record Ice Bucket Challenge at Etihad Stadium on August 22 2014 in Melbourne Australia© InfoMillions of people worldwide have been drenched by icy water for charity. The ice bucket challenge reportedly raised very large sums for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association and the Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK, as well as other charities. 

The stunt is also said to have raised awareness of charitable causes. Who feels they know more about a charity or medical condition since the challenge?

One well-known journalist refused the challenge and suggested people should donate because they want help a good cause, not because of the latest fad. Who agrees? Who disagrees? Explore how and why students engage with different charities.

What did students who were challenged consider in their decision? Did it turn out as they expected? What was their dominant feeling afterwards? Try to pinpoint why the challenge took off. The charities who benefited couldn't have planned it to happen. Compare it with other fundraising events that have gone viral.

Invictus Games

Daniel Hendrix of the USA catches the ball over Maurice Manuel of Denmark during the Wheelchair Rugby match between the USA and Denmark on Day Two of the Invictus Games at the Olympic Park on September 12 2014 in London England© InfoOver 400 injured service men and women from 13 countries took part in the Invictus Games in London. Championed by Prince Harry, their aim is to use the power of sport to inspire recovery and support rehabilitation. 

Invictus means "unconquered". Discuss the word. In what sense can people be "unconquered" after being injured? Is it an attitude of mind, or something physical? Can being unconquered be practised and worked at?

Identify the different benefits of sport to once-active people who have been badly injured. Is the banter and camaraderie of colleagues most important? Or the sense of purpose and value? The Invictus Games also aim to raise awareness of the challenges faced by wounded veterans. Do students think they succeeded?

Sport doesn't suit everyone, and not all wounded service personnel can take part. In what other ways do people overcome adversity and show their courage and determination? 

After an earthquake

A sign reading 'Please help us!' is displayed while children play outside their makeshift tents in rice fields in the Philippines

Children play, hours after a destructive earthquake. What do students want to know?

Read the activities >

Build resilience

School students taking part in a workshop

Students and teachers together reflect, explore and experiment with responses to some form of crisis.

Try the quick activities >


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