HealthRICH: Health Risks Information and Choices

  • Project Description

    This Phase 1 project accomplished the following goals: Developed EHS materials for young teen and family informal education programs. The following types of materials have been developed: five project handbooks written for young teens a camp guide and two outreach leader guides. Provided training programs and supported materials for informal educators organization leaders teachers and others interested in EHS informal education. More than 500 educators participated in workshops academies and an affiliate training program. Project materials were also distributed to well over 2000 teacher participants in Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Board of Regents-funded programming. Conducted young teen and family HealthRICH informal education events. Through project outreach 285 HealthRICH events reached more than 5200 adults and children. Documented and evaluated the impact of the partnership and its activities. The impact of project partnerships far exceeded our proposed impact. The partnership model had a synergistic effect with impact building as partners drew new groups into the network.

  • Abstract

    The overriding goal of the three-year HealthRICH: Health Risks Information and Choices project is to build an education partnership that will improve understanding of environmental health science (EHS) by young teens and their families through informal education events and help them make informed personal choices to reduce environmental health risks. Materials and programming will emphasize four questions that are essential to the public’s understanding of human health: What is the relationship between environmental toxins and human health? What interactions exist between one’s genetics and susceptibility to environmentally induced disease? How can one recognize and evaluate real and perceived risks? How can individuals gain experience in applying scientific evidence? The specific project aims are: Aim 1: Develop EHS-based informal education materials for young teen and family programming Aim 2: Provide EHS-based training programs and supporting materials for 350 museum and science center educators youth organization leaders and others interested in informal education Aim 3: Conduct young teen and family “HealthRICH” informal education events Aim 4: Document and evaluate the impact of the partnership and its activities

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Outreach by Affiliates and Partners: Affiliates reached more than 1400 individuals through outreach. HealthRICH program participants reached 5200 adults and children. Project Website: The HealthRICH website ( provides web-based support to young teens and their families and outreach to the general public. Collaborations: Several leading informal science educators who participated in the annual SEPA meetings have collaborated as field testers. Summer Camps for Students: More than 230 students participated in HealthRICH hands-on activities through local and regional summer science camps. Presentations by Project Staff: HealthRICH was featured at 12 exhibition booths and eight presentations by project staff at major national conferences. Project Publicity: The project was featured on a Cincinnati TV station during National Hand Washing Week. The American Chemical Society’s National Chemistry Week served as a springboard for disseminating activities in 2004 and 2006. Numerous articles appeared in newspapers about partners-outreach. An article on a HealthRICH hands-on activity will appear in the December 2006 Journal of Chemical Education.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goals The goal of formative evaluation was to assess the project’s progress towards stated aims The goals of summative evaluation were to measure the impact of informal education events on young teens and families and measure the impact of professional development activities on educators and youth leaders Ongoing evaluation was also a component of materials development as drafts of project guides were tested by target audiences and reviewed by content experts Evaluation Design – Evaluation was conducted by Dr. Robert Seufert of the Applied Research Center and was designed to collect impact information from young teens and families and from educators and youth leaders. Pre/post surveys were designed to measure factual knowledge gained about key environmental health concepts and movement away from misconception-based attitudes about environmental health science toward more informed attitudes. Instruments Used and Type of Data Collected – A true pre/post instrument was used for long-term events such as multiple meetings of a youth club or a multi-day professional development session. A very short “pseudo” pre/post instrument was used at brief events such as walk-in museum sessions. The short instrument was only given after the event and asks responders what they thought or felt both before and after the intervention. Data gathered were in the form of responses to the pre/post instruments and short “pseudo” pre/post instruments. Data were analyzed by integrating both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data were first analyzed through descriptive statistics chi-square tests and measures of association that indicated how strongly two variables are related to each other. When statistically appropriate interpretations based on the descriptive statistics were extended through the use of t-tests and assessments of effect size. Results of Data Analysis – Evaluation data and analysis of outcomes were consistent with the grant goals. Analysis of pre/post instruments for “Wet Your Whistle!” “Lather Up!” and “More Than Skin Deep!” showed a statistically significant increase or improvement (p=.001) from pre- to post-test based on t-tests of summated scales of survey data for each program. Descriptive statistics chi-square tests and measures of association analysis of “pseudo” pre/post instruments for “Lather Up!” and “Wet Your Whistle!” also showed statistically significant increase or improvement (p=.001).

  • Resources for Sharing

    Project handbooks are designed for self-directed learning by young teens. Each includes instructions for hands-on activities readings thought-provoking questions and games. The following titles have been produced: “Lather Up!” “More Than Skin Deep!” “Wet Your Whistle!” “Breathing Room!” and “Safe Not Sorry: Using Chemicals in the House and Barn.” Outreach guides are designed as leader-led explorations for museums after-school programs and similar venues. Each includes a guide for program leaders (with a possible script and discussion points) materials to promote the event and take-home materials for families. The following titles have been produced: “Hands Up” and “Bottled Up.” Camp guide offers outreach providers an array of hands-on activities designed to engage and inform campers on topics including disease control healthy air healthy skin and water purification. Leader pages offer background materials details for introducing and wrapping up the activities procedure notes and tips and answers to camper questions.

Project Audience

Young teens and their families; museum and science center educators youth organization leaders and others interested in informal education; and teachers of grades 5-8.

Subjects Addressed

Environmental health science and making informed personal choices to reduce environmental health risks.