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CHORI Partners with Hall of Health Museum and UCSF to Bring Science to Fourth and Fifth Graders in Oakland: SEPA & The Summer Science Club

For the past 3 years, CHORI has been helping to bring the wonders of research and biomedical science to elementary schools in the local community of Oakland. With funding through the NIH Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), CHORI and the Hall of Health Museum head up the Health and Biomedical Science for a Diverse Community project.

"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 such a unique and effective program, it isn't any wonder that CHORI and the Hall of Health Museum continue to get SEPA funding in spite of its highly competitive nature. Only a handful of programs are selected for funding from over 70 applicants. The Health and Biomedical Science for a Diverse Community project continues to rise to the top, however, because of the strength of its curriculum and the community-based way in which it is implemented.

Now, however, CHORI hopes to expand access to the curriculum even further. Separately from SEPA, CHORI, the Halls of Health Museum and UC San Francisco have utilized the groundbreaking curriculum of the project to develop the Summer Science Club, a 2-week program from 1 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday, beginning July 30th and running through August 10th.

"With the Summer Science Club, we want to make the curri-
culum more broadly available to students regardless of whether they are minority or low income," Dr. Day says. "It's a strong curriculum that is important to teach every kid."

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."

For more information about the Health and Biomedical Science for a Diverse Community project, please visit our website.

If interested in the Summer Science Club, please visit us here or contact Lucille Day at 510-549-9381.


Monday, May 16, 2011 11:33 PM

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