The goal of this Phase II proposal is to disseminate at five sites nationwide an inquiry-based science and nutrition education program that has been developed and evaluated during our current Phase I SEPA project “Linking Food and the Environment: An Inquiry-Based Science and Nutrition Education Program” or LiFE program. We anticipate this dissemination program will reach 2500 children 100 teachers and 250 parents. The LiFE program geared towards inner-city children parents and teachers addresses a major science education goal to promote scientific literacy for all Americans and a major national health goal for people to eat healthful diets. It consists of a five-module two-year curriculum for 4-6th grade students that uses the study of food and food systems to address National Standards in the areas of science such as inquiry life sciences content and unifying concepts. It also involves a series of four workshops for teachers to help them learn new science and nutrition concepts make connections with other teachers and successfully implement the curriculum. Finally it involves a series of 10 workshops for parents to assist them in working with teachers in the classroom to increase their own science and nutrition literacy and to provide them ideas of how they might extend the LiFE program into their home. An evaluation with 23 elementary school LiFE classes and 20 control classes in New York City has demonstrated that the program significantly improved children’s knowledge inquiry skills and attitudes towards nutrition science and nature; teacher’s attitudes towards the teaching of science and nutrition; and parents’ attitudes towards helping children learn science and making healthy food choices. Process evaluation indicates that parents and teachers enjoyed teaching and participating in the LiFE program and that is was an overall benefit and improvement to science and nutrition instruction in their schools. Phase II dissemination will be carried out through the following specific aims: To disseminate the evaluated LiFE program nationwide by implementing our dissemination model with identified dissemination partners in five sites (20 classes per site) nationwide across three years (New York City Philadelphia St. Louis Austin Texas and Berkeley Calif.) based on a four-pronged approach: Direct communication support including an on-site implementation coordinator In-depth support packages including implementation materials and a video Mediated communication through five module newsletters for all teachers e-mail and an interactive website Connections to the field by building and supporting collaborations between urban school districts and community-based food nutrition and science organizations such as farmers markets as well as science museums The LiFE dissemination model will be evaluated through process evaluation of dissemination partners on-site implementation coordinator teachers parents and field-based collaborators. To publicize our educational products through various professional meetings educational clearinghouses newsletters and web search engines to reach additional schools and individuals To publish our LiFE products with an educational publishing partner This Phase II dissemination will reach about 2500 students; 100 teachers and 100 parents. The multi-pronged approach proposed here will facilitate institutionalization of the LiFE Program.
Additional Abstract 1: This project will disseminate at five sites nationwide an inquiry-based science and nutrition education program that has been developed and evaluated during Phase I of the SEPA project “Linking Food and the Environment: An Inquiry-Based Science and Nutrition Education Program” or LiFE program. It consists of a five-module two-year curriculum for 4-6th grade students. The program includes a series of workshops for teachers to help them learn new science and nutrition concepts make connections with other teachers and successfully implement the curriculum. A series of 10 workshops will be also designed for parents to assist them in working with teachers in the classroom to increase their own science and nutrition literacy and to provide them ideas of how they might extend the LiFE program into their home. Additional Abstract 2: A major national science education goal is to promote scientific literacy for all Americans. At the same time a major national health goal in Healthy People 2000 is for people to eat healthful diets to reduce risk of chronic disease. Thus children living in poverty have important nutrition and health literacy needs. Additionally because inner-city children are largely disconnected from nature it is particularly hard for them to analyze how the products of scientific advances may negatively impact the sustainability of the ecosystems on which all life depends. Consequently the goal of this Phase I project is to transform the experiences of inner-city children their teachers and their parents or care givers with something familiar i.e. food into an inquiry-based science program. The specific aims of this project are to develop and evaluate a new inquiry-based science education model (classroom curriculum plus activities such as field trips) for inner city school students grades 4 and 5. This curriculum is designed to link science literacy and nutrition literacy by creating a coherent understanding of the complex relationships between food production processing and consumption practices human health and the sustainability of the natural environment. The project will develop and evaluate programs with teachers parents and care givers to assist them in implementing the food-based curriculum to increase their own scientific and nutrition literacy and to improve their own attitudes towards science. The curriculum will address growing food preparing and eating food creating a food system and making choices. After development and formative evaluation of the program it will be implemented in 20 classrooms with 20 classes serving as controls in two New York City school districts where students are predominantly African American. Summative evaluation will measure children’s teachers’ and parents’ conceptual knowledge; their understanding of and engagement with the processes of science and attitudes towards science; and their understanding of the interactive nature of science technology and society. Results of the evaluation will be used to revise the program for dissemination.