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Outside the classroom

A day in the life

Outside the classroom

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My favourite day of the whole year was the Prosthodontic Olympics.

Fun, learning, and improving proficiency


How do you motivate students to become great dentists? Recognize that learning incentives are important, build on past experiences, make the learning relevant, vary the teaching methods, and add a dash of fun. In other words, hold the Annual Dalhousie Dentistry Prosthodontics “Olympics,” in which second-year dental students compete for prizes in five team events.

The Prosthodontic Olympics was developed by Dr. Bob Loney, a professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and head of the Department of Dental Clinical Sciences, Division of Removable Prosthodontics. The philosophy behind the games is that learning can be engaging and fun, while providing an opportunity for students to improve their speed in performing clinical and laboratory procedures.

Students select a team name and dress in costume for the games. Prizes worth over $6000 are donated by sponsoring dental companies and awarded to gold, silver, and bronze teams. A grand prize is awarded to a member of the team with the highest score, as an incentive for teams to work together and cheer each other on. For the morning of the Olympics, class is cancelled and the games begin with a boisterous opening ceremony that includes lighting an “Olympic” flame and team introductions.

Several weeks prior to the games, students are provided with material and models in order to practice. A formal practice session is held one week prior, so faculty mentors can provide feedback to help students improve their speed and quality of work.

The official competition consists of five events:

  • alginate impressions
  • boxing a final impression
  • placing a rubber dam
  • crown preparations
  • and making a provisional restoration.

The student with the greatest cumulative score for quality and speed wins the event. When ties occur, the student with the highest quality wins. Record times are kept from year to year so students can compare their performance to those of previous participants. Full- and part-time faculty members grade products together, providing an informal calibration opportunity.

Student feedback about the Olympics has been extremely positive. One student's course evaluation contained the comment, “My favourite day of the whole year was the Prosth Olympics."

Instructors have noted increased efficiency in clinics. Graduates have noted that they use procedures they once thought were too time-intensive, because they now realize they can perform them with reasonable efficiency.

The Prosthodontic Olympics is one aspect of the programs in the Faculty of Dentistry taught by dedicated professionals such as Dr. Loney.

Prize-winning prosthodontic skills

Improving quality and speed
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Brandon Griffin enjoyed particpating in the Faculty's second-year Prosthodontic Olympics with his team. And he won first prize in one of the events. Find out which event, and why Brandon is so happy to be a Dal Dentistry student.

"I'm so glad I'm here! It's an honour and a privilege to be at Dal."