Birmingham Science Education Partnership (BSEP): Middle School Inquiry Based Learning

  • Project Description

    The specific aims are to: Promote excellence in biomedical science education and literacy among Birmingham City School students Provide outstanding training in inquiry-based biomedical education to middle school science teachers in Birmingham City Schools Enhance health literacy and good health practices among the general public especially among the parents and siblings of the middle school students Foster an appreciation of biomedical education among UAB science and professional students to create a cadre of scientists and clinicians who will participate in and lead K-12 science education throughout their careers

  • Abstract

    Health care disparities in the United States are due in part to a lack of early biomedical/health science education among minority and disadvantaged children. This failure of the education system leads to an under representation of minorities in the pipeline to biomedical careers poor health literacy and an elevated burden on health care. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Birmingham City Schools (BCS)’ and McWane Center have forged an effective alliance that has empowered CORD’s SEPA-funded high school programs and thus created a self-sustaining model in which the resources of all three partners have been leveraged to greatly enhance BCS science education. As an index of this success since 1999 nearly 100% of the African-American students who completed CORD’s three-year high school summer program have advanced into colleges and universities primarily majoring in biomedical science subjects. Annually these programs directly reach about 4000 minority students and provide intense training to more than 20 of their teachers. However despite these successes a majority of BCS students lose interest in science education prior to high school years. These students must be engaged and given a solid science background earlier in life if a significant number are to advance into biomedical careers. This proposal focuses on a new integrated program to enhance student inquiry-based science education for grades 6-8 by providing new opportunities for the students and greatly enhancing science training for their teachers. The challenges of these groups are quite different from the ones CORD faced in its high school programs. Middle school students and the teachers have much less science training than their high school counterparts. Major strengths of the proposed program include: Incorporation of proposed inquiry-based in-class and McWane Center sessions into the core science curriculum of BCS Integration of teacher training into the regular in-service training of BCS science teachers Partnership with committed professional and undergraduate biomedical students who with the teachers will facilitate inquiry-based science and biomedical health education Engagement of parents and the general public in health literacy education awareness of the benefits of NIH-sponsored research The proven partnership of UAB BCS and McWane Center will provide a test of the power cost-effectiveness and self-sustainability of this inquiry-based model.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    We will make the modules that are developed available for all area schools.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Goals: Provide inquiry based science training for middle school teachers Promote biomedical science education and health care literacy for students Facilitate effective health literacy biomedical science training and cultural awareness among health professional students Enhance health literacy and good health practices among the general public Programs: Summer science samps classroom experiences McWane Center labs BioTeach training take-home kits weekend academy health advances exhibit. Assessments: Science knowledge inquiry teaching techniques inquiry skills communication skills health practices progression in science cultural awareness health literacy. Iinstruments: Prepost test of science content testing of teacher-made inquiry lab observation and class performance of students in classes taught by trained vs. control teachers (e.g. GPA SAT10 etc.) lab reports student PowerPoint presentations survey of health practices school IT tracking of students in MS and HS courses surveys tracking of students’ outreach in college and career Counts of PC use and time spent at exhibit visitor surveys attendance and participation in WA.

  • Resources for Sharing

    Full protocols for each of programs will be made publicly available on CORD-s website: These will include protocols for summer science camps classroom experiences and McWane Science Center laboratories. The students will teach their parents and siblings the lessons that they learned and by pre- and post-testing their students they will gain greater insight into the biomedical issues by their teaching. The teachers and UAB facilitators will carry their lessons-learned forward throughout their careers. The staff will present their results at annual meetings of the Alabama Science Teachers Association and at the annual Experimental Biology and Society for Neuroscience meetings

Project Audience

Middle school teachers students parents siblings and medical graduate and undergraduate honors students.