EdVenture Children's Museum, a hands-on, children's museum in Columbia, SC, in close collaboration with NIH-funded researchers at the University of South Carolina, proposes a five-year, SEPA project entitled "Unlocking the Mysteries of Chronic Diseases: BioInvestigations for Family, School and Youth Audiences." The program will develop teaching laboratories and experiments to educate youth ages 5-14, teens and adults about biomedical science topics in a fun, investigatory way. From these laboratory experiences, EdVenture will also develop educational programs designed to engage disadvantaged audiences in schools and communities to help expose them to the world of science and the benefits of community-based translational research. The laboratories and educational programs will utilize scientific content drawn from NIH-sponsored biomedical research and will translate the research process and public impact into meaningful experiences for the public. These programs will reach a large population, both urban and rural, in socio-economically depressed areas of the state, promoting students interest in topics that they may not otherwise be exposed to and encouraging a lifelong familiarity and facility with scientific thought and practice. Throughout the life expectancy of this project, a project 2.5 million children and adults will experience the laboratories and related educational programs. Long-term goals are to encourage future biomedical science career choices, and most importantly, empower a child to take control over his/her own health decisions and to develop the necessary skills to navigate the flood of health information inherent in the quickly changing landscape that is health today.
Unlocking the Mysteries of Chronic Disease: BioInvestigations for Family, School and Youth Audiences is specifically relevant to public health as it provides information to museum visitors and program participants about the chronic diseases and health disparities in the state of South Carolina and the current research around these topics. Additionally, participants gain an understanding of the personal choices they can make to positively influence their health and acquire tools to make evidence-based decisions about critical health issues.