Rising to the Top of Educational Innovation
CHORI Partners with Hall of Health Museum and UCSF to Bring Science to Fourth and Fifth Graders in Oakland: SEPA & The Summer Science Club
"We teach them scientific process as well as content, and we give them strategies for living healthier lives," explains Lucille Day, PhD, co-director of the project with CHORI President, Bertram Lubin, MD.
Using fun, engaging and hands-on activities, the curriculum for fourth and fifth graders focuses on healthcare issues that are important for everyone, but that in particular affect minority communities, such as diabetes and sickle cell disease.
The curriculum was developed through a joint effort at CHORI and the Hall of Health Museum and can simply be utilized as is by teachers directly in the school system. However, during the grant period, the SEPA program is instead taught by high school and college students of diverse backgrounds who want to pursue biomedical careers themselves.
"They're good role models," Dr. Day says of the students, who come to the project through the Biology Scholars program at UC Berkeley and the FACES program through CHRCO. "They come from the same ethnic groups and the same types of backgrounds, so they're people these kids can identify with and say, hey, these people are like me!"
As a result , the program, which has the college and high school students teaching a total of 40 lessons - one per week to each of the two grade levels - provides an invaluable hands-on opportunity as well.
With 3 hours a day, every day, there will be opportunity to conduct more lengthy experiments and to track the results over consecutive days. While all students are welcome, there will be scholarships provided for eligible students so that they can continue to explore the sciences throughout the summer regardless of income.
In addition to expanding opportunities for children, the Summer Science Club also provides a model by which the program can achieve its newest goal - dissemination of the curriculum beyond the two Oakland schools in which the program piloted.
"I don't know of anything similar to what we're doing," acknowledges Dr. Day. "We want to make it available to everyone, to do workshops with other school districts, to publish our findings."
While an evaluation report and subsequent publications are still in the works, Dr. Day has no doubts about the success of the program.
"These kids are learning so much," Dr. Day says. "And even better - they're getting inspired by science."
Monday, May 16, 2011 11:33 PM