Adolescents face many conflicting messages and influences related to high-risk behavior. Choices confronting middle school students often have the potential for adverse effects on their overall health and well being. Montshire Museum proposes to develop an educational outreach program to allow students an opportunity to learn about key health issues in a context that is based on high-quality research and offers hands-on inquiry and self-directed investigations. The proposed educational outreach program will serve students in grades 5-8 in rural Vermont and New Hampshire schools. The project team will create four health education modules, each one related to current NIH-supported research by faculty at Dartmouth Medical School (DMS). DMS researchers will collaborate with Montshire Museum's science educators in developing the modules, connecting with students and teachers, and providing support for all aspects of the project. For each module, the project team will support hands-on classroom investigations and independent research using materials, objects and exhibits developed specifically for the program. In addition, professional development institutes for middle school health and science educators will provide science content and instructional strategies needed to successfully implement health science lessons that are aligned with national and state standards for health and science education. The curriculum materials developed for school-based programming also create opportunities for broader public outreach. Montshire's educators will adapt them for special family activities and presentations within the museum setting. The educational curriculum will be designed to provide all participants with information that will assist in making personal health decisions in the subject areas;raise participants'awareness of the ways that culture and media affect their choices;and expose participants to the interesting and relevant research taking place locally, while increasing their understanding of the diversity of health science careers and research processes. A thorough process of formative and summative evaluation will enable the project team to take an iterative approach to curriculum development and to provide the best possible learning experience for participants.
(provided by applicant): This health education outreach program will provide important information and experiences to help young teens make good decisions about their health. The topics that will be explored in schools and in the Montshire Museum are directly related to current NIH-supported research, to state (VT and NH) health curriculum standards and the National Health Education Standards, and to the difficult health-related choices facing many middle school students. Thus, the educational programming proposed here will leverage the NIH's existing funding priorities.