The proposed project will provide rural middle school teachers with instructional strategies and resources for teaching science in the context of One Health (the integration of human, animal, and environmental health) and assess the effectiveness of this method. The app- and web- based curriculum will use a student-centered approach to teaching middle school science topics. Middle school science curricular materials produced over the past 15 years by the Partnership for Environmental Education and Rural Health (PEER) in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University will be enhanced to include motivational, student-centered content for use with mobile devices. The activities will target underserved rural communities, concentrating specifically on middle school students, who are at a critical period for developing academic competence and choosing a career. This project will focus on rural schools because they have large minority and educationally underserved populations. Their geographic isolation allows students few opportunities to interact with scientists and academic health professionals who might increase their motivation to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and related careers. Project specific aims include the following: 1. Development of a student-centered app containing engaging brief stories, case studies, and video presentations followed by interactive assessments (games, quizzes, etc.) and project/curriculum guides that science teachers can use to lead students in group activities, experiments, projects, and discussions. 2. Re- organization of the peer.tamu.edu website to accommodate the new app and online courses and to make specific resources easier for teachers to find. 3. Provision of teacher professional development via summer workshops where teachers are instructed in and contribute to the design and implementation of relevant student-centered lessons to be delivered by an app. This innovative approach and content not only make “learning on the go” possible, but they also provide a wide range of content that is not readily available for students and teachers through traditional classroom instruction. The proposed project will further prepare middle school teachers to teach STEM; increase the number of youth who have interactive STEM experiences in school; and increase the number of underrepresented minority students who are knowledgeable about STEM and STEM careers.
PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE:
The proposed project will provide rural middle school teachers with student-centered instructional strategies and resources for teaching life science in the context of One Health (the integration of human, animal, and environmental health). The effectiveness of these new strategies and resources will then be compared to a conventional lecture format. Computer-based, culturally responsive student-centric learning materials and educational approaches will be directed at underserved and disadvantaged rural middle school students. An updated PEER website and professional development programs for teachers will facilitate use of the developed application-based and online course curricula. These learning materials and approaches will motivate rural middle-school students to learn relevant One Health science and explore STEM careers.