CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University in collaboration with the Health in Our Hands-Flint/Genesee Partnership is funded by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health to develop a new generation of learning materials that blend school and community learning experiences to teach genomics (including gene-environment relationships) and evolution.
This project, called Health in Our Hands, is developing and assessing high quality curriculum materials, innovative professional development, and a community health/science education partnership to support and sustain HiOH in schools and communities.
We live in challenging times when all children will need to know and apply fundamental science to advance personal and societal well-being. Science over the last 30 years has changed how an individual’s medical and health issues are explained and treated. The analysis of a drop of blood from an individual can help predict the risk for certain health issues.
There is also a greater scientific appreciation that genes are not our destiny. As students move from upper elementary to higher grade levels they can appreciate that human illness need not only be caused by germs, and that a combination of genetic and environmental influences may be at work. All children growing up in this world need to understand the concepts behind these scientific breakthroughs to make informed decisions about their own lives, and to act as citizens developing responsible science policy.
But educating students about these scientific ideas at the microscopic and macroscopic levels poses a challenge to science educators. And it’s not only children – studies show that most Americans do not fully understand modern concepts in genetics such as the importance of both genetic and environmental factors in shaping behavior and disease risk.
Through ongoing partnership and relationships between schools and communities, HiOH provides students with unique, authentic and relevant science-related experiences in their community, builds a real-life social purpose for science learning, and provides opportunities to learn and apply scientific ideas in context reinforcing both science learning and social and emotional competencies.