Environmental Factor, February 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
EHP Science Education Program expanding
By Matt Goad
Sen, right, and Carroll are utilizing local and long-distance partnerships and resources to enhance the utility of research published in EHP for science teachers worldwide. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
The NIEHS journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP)(http://www.ehponline.org/) is expanding the reach of its Science Education Program with the launch of a new and improved Website(http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/static/scied.action) and redesigned lessons. The move represents a heightened commitment to science education outreach by the journal.
The EHP Science Education Program promotes knowledge of environmental health to high school and undergraduate students to make them better stewards of their health and their environment, according to Bono Sen, Ph.D., science education and outreach program manager at EHP.
It is the only program of its kind offered by a scientific journal, Sen said, featuring lessons that build upon selected news and research articles published in the journal. "The science is up-to-date and relevant, and the lessons encourage students to learn actively about their health and their environment through hands-on and critical thinking activities," she said.
The lessons, which are aligned with the National Science Education Standards(http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4962) , are arranged into six modules:
- Air - discussing topics related to air quality monitoring, air pollution, and the impact of air pollution on human health
- Water - investigating issues of water resources, pollution routes of exposure, sources of pollution, health effects, and policy
- Land - including topics related to land-use hazards, built environments, and the perils of impervious surfaces
- Climate - exploring energy issues, environmental and human impacts of climate change, alternative fuels, disaster, and emergency preparedness
- Food - addressing topics related to genetically modified and organic foods, the presence of pesticides and additives in foods, and obesity
- Disease - examining topics related to the genetic basis of disease, disease risk factors, and environmental toxicants
In addition to offering free resources in English and Spanish, EHP also offers free professional development workshops to teachers to enhance their understanding of environmental health related topics to bring back to their classrooms and communities.
The program not only brings teachers to NIEHS, it sends Sen and her partner in the outreach effort, EHP Science Education and Outreach Program Coordinator Carly Carroll, out into nearby schools to engage with students (see related story (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2011/february/spotlight-students/)).
In collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, the EHP Science Education Program will host its first high school student workshop this coming summer. With a focus on climate change, this workshop will educate students about environmental health and sciences and related careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The program also provides various outreach training opportunities for the institute's postdoctoral fellows by providing teaching opportunities during the teacher workshops and writing opportunities with the EHP lessons.
Sen has plans to set up a teacher advisory board to guide the creation and evaluation of new materials for the program, and she is building a partnership network with science education professionals nationwide.
For more information visit the Science Education Program Web site(http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/static/scied.action).
(Matt Goad is a contract writer with the NIEHS Office of Communications and Public Liaison.)