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)
Implemented in 1993, the Instructional Material Development program was the Institute’s first extramural program for K-12 Environmental Health Science Education. The program supported the creation of instructional materials at all grade levels. The instructional materials that resulted from this program could be 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 supported projects to produce and implement 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)
From 2000 to 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, art). The purpose of the initiative was to improve overall academic performance as well as enhance students' comprehension of and interest in environmental health sciences.
EHSIC grantees created engaging materials for use in the classroom. The EHSIC grantees created over 80 different lessons that can be used in grades pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. Some materials are available on-line free of charge. Others must either be purchased or obtained by attending a teacher workshop. Evaluation of the EHSIC program has shown that students and teachers respond well to the integrative materials. A full listing of these integrative materials can be viewed on the NIEHS Science Education webpage.
Project summaries presented at past meetings and events as well as grantee publications, further illustrate the impact and contribution of this program.
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Program
The influx of funding and resources via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 has allowed NIEHS to stimulate the nation’s economy and promote the support and advancement of scientific research to solve some of the nation’s greatest public health challenges. As part of the ARRA, 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 have also contributed to the development of materials for environmental public health education. This includes materials such as the:
- Environmental public health curriculum for UNC-TV and PBS learning media (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, MA)
- Air toxics curriculum (Tony Ward, University of Montana)
Other success stories have been reported from ARRA grantees who have improved several U.S. communities by creating research and remediation jobs. ARRA grantees have also created tools, software, and technologies to advance public health research.