The goal of the Pacific Education and Research for Leadership in Science (PEARLS) project is to improve knowledge of science and scientific research, while increasing interest in science careers by introducing an innovative science curriculum for middle/intermediate school students. The curriculum will consist of an adaptation of an existing inquiry-based best practices curriculum, reorganized to meet standards and benchmarks and infused with culturally appropriate hands-on activities, field trips, classroom visits by scientists and training in research skills and conduct. Built into the curriculum is program specific teacher training, coordination of science career resources, science center exhibits and innovative mentoring for teachers and students. The dissemination plan involves making the curriculum and training available across the Pacific region as a recommended curriculum and providing science center outreach and exhibit development. Through complementary partnerships including science center staff, researchers, healthcare workers, curriculum experts and educators from Hawaii and the six U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, PEARLS will create a full science curriculum for 7th and 8th grade that will help students develop scientific inquiry skills and better understand medical research and science career opportunities. The PEARLS project (phase I/II) will affect over 10,000 students and teachers through four major activities: adapting existing science curricula to include cultural components, researcher contact with scientists, and a variety of science field trips, museum resources and technology supported activities;creating a support network for teachers and students that includes electronic and near-peer mentoring;coordinating resources for science interested students to do science fair projects and field and lab work with mentors;and creating a team of researchers, curriculum developers, educators and science center staff to continue resource development for the region. The evaluation plan will include both formative and summative assessments, control groups, and introduction of an innovative survey tool that will be tested by other SEPAs across the country.
The purpose of the PEARLS project is to increase science knowledge and careers interest in underrepresented minority students and those from rural and underserved areas by introducing a 7th and 8th grade inquiry-based culturally sensitive science curriculum. PEARLS students and teachers will have access to multiple forms of mentoring and resources to facilitate interest in science and success at science careers. This is relevant to public health, as these students will have a greater chance of understanding scientific research and pursuing careers in research, healthcare and public health.