Environmental Health Science Education

Program Description - Background

Current NIEHS initiatives related to environmental health science education were built on the success of three previous science education grant programs.

Instructional Material Development (1993-1997)

The Instructional Material Development program was the institute’s first extramural program for K-12 Environmental Health Science Education. The materials resulting from this program were infused into existing curricula and used to develop challenging materials for students. Grantees used a variety of media, appropriate for the intended audience to address topics such as cell biology, toxicology, risk assessment, scientific process and methodology, and indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Teacher Enhancement and Development (1995-1999)

This program produced and implemented teacher enhancement and development activities at the K-12 level. The goals of the program were to:

  • Enhance dissemination, utilization, and effective implementation of materials and curricula pertaining to environmental health science.
  • Provide teachers with the disciplinary and pedagogical skills necessary for teaching environmental health science.
  • Link researchers in environmental health science with teachers at the K-12 level. Grantees trained more than 7,500 teachers around the U.S. to incorporate environmental health science education into their classrooms.

Environmental Health Sciences as an Integrative Context for Learning (EHSIC) (2000-2008)

The EHSIC program fostered partnerships among environmental health scientists, educators, and state departments of education to develop standards-based curricular materials that integrate environmental health sciences within a variety of subject areas (e.g., geography, history, math, and art). The purpose was to improve overall academic performance as well as enhance students' comprehension of and interest in environmental health sciences.

EHSIC grantees created over 80 lessons that can be used in pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. Evaluation of the EHSIC program showed that students and teachers respond well to integrative materials. These integrative materials can be viewed on the NIEHS Science Education webpage.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Program

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 allowed NIEHS to support advancement of scientific research to solve some of the nation’s greatest public health challenges. NIEHS awarded nearly 350 grants to more than 150 U.S. institutions in 42 states. NIEHS also invested a portion of ARRA funds to support summer research positions for students and teachers.

ARRA grantees contributed to the development of materials for environmental public health education. This includes materials such as the:

Other ARRA grantees improved several U.S. communities by creating research and remediation jobs. ARRA grantees also created tools, software, and technologies to advance public health research.