Children growing up in rural and medically underserved communities face unique challenges, and may not always have easy access to educational opportunities that provide experiences with cultivating biomedical knowledge and interest in scientific careers. To address this issue, we are proposing to expand upon an inquiry-based science education program called the Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program (CAHHP). Through four Aims, we will leverage our network of 50 teachers in 31 schools located in rural and American Indian / Alaska Native communities throughout Montana, Idaho, and Alaska. With an evaluation plan consisting of a mixed method design, we will test the overall hypothesis that CAHHP, with a new focus on PM2.5, cardiovascular and population health, can be successfully utilized in rural, underserved areas to increase middle/high students’ interest in careers in basic and clinical medical research. We will test this hypothesis with the following Aims: Aim 1) Citizen Science: Develop authentic research experiences using novel PM2.5 and heart rate monitors with a new focus on cardiovascular/population health; Aim 2) Science communication: Build student skills, confidence and interest in science by providing opportunities for students to translate their research findings to different audiences; Aim 3) Student mentoring: Provide engagement and mentoring activities that support student research and expose students to careers in basic and clinical medical research; and Aim 4) Teacher Professional Development: Provide multiple learning opportunities for teachers and pre- service teachers in order to facilitate their understanding of biomedical concepts and their successful implementation of the CAHHP model with students. With SEPA funding, we intend to provide educational opportunities for over 5,000 students from 31 schools located within rural and underserved areas of the northern Rocky Mountains and Alaska.
PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE:
This project will expand our Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program by incorporating a new focus on PM2.5 air pollution, cardiovascular health, and population health into rural/underserved schools located throughout Montana, Idaho, and Alaska.