Community Action Projects
At the end of each unit, HIOH introduces an innovative “community research project” where students use their models, for example of diabetes and addiction, that they have developed over the course of the lessons to identify an issue in their environment that may affect their health.
The class transforms into a research team that works together to find evidence-based solutions to improve the health of their community. Together with the teacher, students engage in a community action project in which they incorporate the scientific practices described by the Framework (NRC, 2012): They ask a research question about their environment (e.g., How does my neighborhood affect my exercise and walking habits? How does the availability of healthy food in my cafeteria affect my eating habits? How does a rap song promote healthy eating among school students?). They plan and carry out an investigation by combining funds of knowledge, such as interviews with experts and family members, with students’ surveys, and technological data. Then, they analyze and interpret data using both qualitative (themes, pictures) and quantitative (graphs) methods of analysis. The students also construct explanations based on evidence for their findings and engage in argument from evidence with their classmates about their findings and suggestions.
At a district-wide Summit Event, they communicate their results to other students, family and to the broader community. Community action research projects engage students in challenging opportunities to transform their knowledge into action emphasizing critical thinking and science communication. The students develop a positive perspective about community engagement and the importance of personal responsibility, and research skills to engage in individual and collective action.