Curricula Modeled on Biodiversity & Vector-borne Disease

  • Project Description

    Build teacher capacity to bring research in biodiversity and disease ecology into grade 5-11 classrooms. Yale Peabody Museum collaborated with biomedical partners to design a one-week professional development program completed by 29 teachers during 2006-2007. Develop innovative NSES-based curriculum resources that use museum collections to investigate vector-borne disease. Teachers and museum educators developed new resources modeled on event- based science a PBL approach. Resources include a curriculum module teacher guide and kits that contain museum specimens and scientific instruments. Increase student understanding and application of process skills to the investigation of Lyme disease and West Nile virus. Students investigate vector life cycles by raising mosquitoes in the classroom. They examine preserved ticks and museum specimens of mammal and bird hosts. Classes visit laboratories at Yale School of Medicine and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to observe biomedical research and participate in hands-on activities. Increase public understanding of the nature of biomedical sciences and research in the context of case examples relevant to the Connecticut population. The museum features annual family events on Lyme disease and West Nile virus that explore ecology transmission surveillance and prevention. A traveling multimedia kiosk exhibit will use these diseases as case examples to demonstrate the crucial links between biodiversity studies and biomedical research.

  • Abstract

    The recent resurgence of important infectious diseases has led to a need for K-12 school curricula that create a better understanding of disease transmission dynamics and their biological underpinnings. To produce these curricula this project selected Lyme disease and West Nile encephalitis as models because of their public health significance because they provide a window for understanding broader biological relationships and finally because Yale University is a major research center for these diseases and can provide scientifically authoritative curriculum content. A disease-based curriculum project will enable a natural partnership between government and academic research institutions the Peabody museum and its educational staff concerned K-12 teachers and school districts in need of new teaching tools. In Phase I investigators from the Yale University School of Medicine and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station – together with Peabody Museum educators – will work with a select group of 10 science teachers from three urban public school districts. With logistic and materials support from the museum educators these teachers will design the curriculum resources to include inquiry-based lesson plans a teacher reference manual and student science kits. Researchers will provide expertise and technical assistance graduate students dedicated to the project will assist more directly in the development and implementation phases and the museum will provide and organize specimens for hands-on activities. Lyme disease and West Nile encephalitis will serve as model systems for exploring interactions between biodiversity and vector-borne disease under the guiding paradigms provided by national standards for science teaching. The teacher-designed resources will undergo rigorous field testing and refinement before integration into the formal science curriculum in each district. This includes evaluation by professionals in curriculum development and student level impat. In Phase II the curriculum resources will be disseminated regionally and nationally. Participating classrooms will be connected electronically via the museum’s videoconference facility for discussion and comparison of data from research projects. Public education initiatives will include hands-on learning experiences at the museum academic symposia and a traveling exhibit; and will feature the juxtaposition of biodiversity studies and biomedical research on Lyme/West Nile. Project activities are expected to reach 5850 students during Phase I and 11400 students in Phase II. Museum activities will impact annually 4000 visitors at the Peabody Museum; the traveling exhibit will impact an additional 150000 each year.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Integration into the science curriculum of Connecticut partner school districts Initial distribution through national dissemination sites in Wisconsin and Texas Publication through the Yale Peabody Museum Publications Office Placement of lessons and interactive activities on the museum website

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Highlight: Student Learning – During 2007 a primary focus was the development of a curriculum module and an associated instrument to assess student learning in grades 5-11. A pre-post test was piloted in Spring 2007 (n=209). It was refined and administered to a second cohort (n=253) in Fall 2007. The final test version contained 18 multiple choice and short answer items covering module content. Both middle and high school students demonstrated highly positive comparable results.

  • Resources for Sharing

    Curriculum module (comprised of five lessons) and teacher guide Museum specimens relevant to the ecology of Lyme disease and West Nile virus Project assessment results from pilot implementation

Project Audience

Grade 5-11 teachers and students in four underserved urban school districts

Subjects Addressed

Infectious disease transmission; vector-borne pathogens; disease ecology; tick and mosquito biology; vaccine development; clinical trials; science process skills