Get Ready for the Next Generation of Scientists!

Many people think that young people can't conduct meaningful research and help solve problems in their community. Sixth grade students from Mrs. Savoie’s class at Freeman Elementary School were invited to present results of their community action research project, "How can healthy smoothies attract consumers?" at the 2019 Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center (HFRCC) Annual Symposium on March 15, 2019. Their presentation gave visibility to their research and the wonderful work that Flint students are doing in their science classes. The HFRCC symposium also gave students the opportunity to learn about other research conducted about health in Flint.

The community action research project was conducted as part of the science curriculum, Health in Our Hands: What controls my health?” during which 6th graders in Flint Community Schools studied type 2 diabetes to appreciate the importance of both genetic and environmental factors in their risk for disease. The curriculum connected students to real-world experiences. One in 10 adults in Michigan are diagnosed with diabetes, which like many common diseases, is caused by a combination of both genetic and environmental factors. During the unit, students investigated how lifestyle options for healthy foods and exercise help prevent or reduce diabetes. For the final project, the classes conducted an action research project to improve our school or neighborhood to help prevent or reduce diabetes.

Mrs. Savoie’s class chose to research healthy smoothies. First, they researched what makes for a healthy smoothie. They consulted with Katherine Alaimo, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University and developed their own healthy smoothie recipes. The class then organized a healthy smoothie event where smoothies were served to family members and school friends. “Pink” was a very popular color for smoothies, although some people liked knowing the healthy ingredients when making choices. Students reported that more smoothies are being served at home.

Students were funded by a grant from the University of Michigan Flint-Discovering Place and the HFRCC. Health in Our Hands is a research project led by CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University in partnership with Flint Community Schools, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Community-based Organization Partners of Flint, Sloan Museum, Flint Public Library, Concord Consortium in Massachusetts and Detroit Public Schools Community District, University Prep Science and Math Middle School, Charles W. Wright Museum of African American History, Michigan Science Center, Detroit Public Library, Friends of Parkside in Detroit. This project is supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Award Number R25 GM129186-05.