HSTA Citizen Science: Adolescents engaged in citizen science with early childcare facilities to address childhood obesity

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    This proposal uses the novel approach of engaging high school under represented students in Citizen Science through Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) projects to address STEM education. The project addresses biomedical workforce development of underrepresented populations with successful strategies and infrastructure in place. The new obesity primary prevention focus and Citizen Science project work will help address a critical barrier to healthy lifestyles in underserved communities by empowering underrepresented students as vectors of change in their own communities.

  • Abstract

    The goals of this proposal are: 1) to provide opportunities for underrepresented students to consider careers in basic or clinical research by exciting them through an educational Citizen Science research project; 2) to provide teachers with professional development in science content and teaching skills using research projects as the infrastructure; and 3) to improve the environments and behaviors in early childcare and education settings related to healthy lifestyles across the state through HSTA students Citizen Science projects. The project will complement or enhance the training of a workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs. It will encourage interactive partnerships between biomedical and clinical researchers,in-service teachers and early childcare and education facilities to prevent obesity.

    Specific Aim I is the Biomedical Summer Institute for Teachers led by university faculty. This component is a one week university based component. The focus is to enhance teacher knowledge of biomedical characteristics and problems associated with childhood obesity, simple statistics, ethics and HIPAA compliance, and the principles of Citizen Science using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). The teachers, together with the university faculty and staff, will develop the curriculum and activities for Specific Aim II.

    Specific Aim II is the Biomedical Summer Institute for Students, led by HSTA teachers guided by university faculty. This experience will expose 11th grade HSTA students to the biomedical characteristics and problems associated with obesity with a focus on early childhood. Students will be trained on Key 2 a Healthy Start, which aims to improve nutrition and physical activity best practices, policies and environments in West Virginia’s early child care and education programs. The students will develop a meaningful project related to childhood obesity and an aspect of its prevention so that the summer institute bridges seamlessly into Specific Aim III.

    Specific Aim III is the Community Based After School Club Experiences. The students and teachers from the summer experience will lead additional interested 9th–12th grade students in their clubs to examine their communities and to engage community members in conducting public health intervention research in topics surrounding childhood obesity prevention through Citizen Science. Students and teachers will work collaboratively with the Key 2 a Healthy Start team on community projects that will be focused on providing on-going technical assistance that will ultimately move the early childcare settings towards achieving best practices related to nutrition and physical activity in young children.

Project Audience

High school teachers, 11th grade underrepresented students, preschool students, and community members

Subjects Addressed

Nutrition, obesity, health, food, community health, community partnerships