MIDAS Project: Models of Implementation and Dissemination of Environmental Health and Science Across Subjects

  • Project Description

    MIDAS is a combined Phase I and Phase II plan for integration of environmental health science (EHS) across subjects reinforced with a coordinated program of teacher professional development. EHS concepts are integrated into core subjects to provide a cohesive real world framework for learning. Teachers receive training in curricular concepts and teaming through the Environmental Health Sciences Summer Institute for K-12 Educators (SI) (K12summerinstitute.mdanderson.org). The goals of the MIDAS Project are: Advance science education and improve scientific literacy by integrating environmental health and science materials across subjects in a model school system Provide a self-sustaining integrated curricular model that utilizes existing local and accessible resources and infrastructure Train K-12 teachers and disseminate environmental health and science materials through professional development Advance education through improved instruction and integration of EHS materials across subjects including science mathematics theater reading writing and social studies

  • Abstract

    The Center for Research on Environmental Disease (CRED) of the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) is requesting funding for a five-year combined Phase I and Phase II project to launch a fully integrated dissemination and implementation program of environmental health and science education. Phase I includes development of an implementation plan that integrates environmental health and science modules across existing K-12 curriculum in a model school system. Phase II includes continuation and expansion of a statewide teacher training institute for K-12 educators. The implementation model includes integration of new environmental health and science education modules and curricular enrichment through a seminar series a field trip program and student projects. All activities and modules are coordinated through age-appropriate research and educational themes. These elements will be thematically interwoven into the existing curricular framework and are designed to exceed statewide scholastic requirements. The underlying conceptual basis is to provide a self-sustaining integrated curriculum in the schools that utilizes existing local and accessible resources and infrastructure. The seminar series will include a balanced presentation of environmental health and science issues from experts in the field including representatives from many local and state agencies and leading biomedical research institutions. Field trips to educational sites parks facilities museums and universities will engage students and reinforce environmental health and science lessons. The Phase II dissemination program will serve as a curricular foundation for the integrated K-12 implementation model of environmental health and science education by introducing new educational modules and materials. The Environmental Health Sciences Summer Institute (Summer Institute) will provide bilingual environmental health and science training and education to Texas teachers resulting in enhanced classoom learning for more than 75000 students. This professional development paradigm for improving environmental health and science education will be used to disseminate new and innovative curricular materials developed by several of the nation’s leading science research institutions. Formative and summative analyses will be used to measure the effectiveness of statewide dissemination of environmental health science curricular materials and the development of the integrated K-12 implementation model. Scientific and educational advisory boards will monitor the progress of the project provide directional assistance and identify resources. In today’s society the challenge of fully understanding the impact of environmental exposures on human health continues to increase in complexity. This project seeks to improve the understanding of environmental health and science by teachers and their students and enable both to make informed decisions about the environment and their health.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    The EHS Summer Institute is an annual four-day professional development conference that introduces K-12 teachers to new educational materials and concepts that explore the critical interrelationships between human health and the environment. The institute not only provides the curricular training foundation for ~50 MIDAS teachers but also serves as the MIDAS dissemination arm reaching ~150 Texas teachers each summer. State and national conferences such as the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference also provide important dissemination mechanisms for MIDAS curricula.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Goals and Design – The MIDAS evaluation plan (EP) is tied to project goals. Instruments have been developed to collect the most pertinent and useful data to assess the success of program activities and to determine the impact on teachers and students. An external and independent project evaluator was hired to design evaluation instruments and compile findings. The EP encompasses both formative and summative assessment and a variety of instruments and data sets including online surveys standardized test scores and focus groups. Formative Results – Field Experience (FE) and Seminar Series evaluations provide immediate feedback about the quality organization and age-appropriateness of each event. Evaluations of the nine FEs conducted during the 2005-2006 school year showed that the majority (85%) of responding teachers rated venues as excellent or outstanding and 94% stated that the overall value was good excellent or outstanding. Teachers agreed or strongly agreed that the FEs encouraged students to question (74%) explore (76%) and observe (85%). New SI workshop evaluations assess the overall value of the workshop quality of the educational materials and the knowledge and responsiveness of the trainer(s). Of the 19 workshops evaluated in 2005 the majority (12) had a mean rating of 3.75 or higher on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being excellent. Many commented that they most liked the hands-on activities. Summative Results – Focus Groups (FG) conducted at the end of the school year are designed to investigate the level of participation of teachers and students including the implementation and integration of EHS materials and the impact of classroom lessons on student learning. FG data demonstrate that the MIDAS Project through the integration of EHS increases student knowledge of EHS concepts. Teachers reported that MIDAS increased cross-subject communication and awareness. The MIDAS Comprehensive Survey queries teachers about the integration process the extent that curricula were implemented and the major factors that contributed to successful implementation of MIDAS materials. In both 2005 and 2006 the majority of the teachers (64% and 66% respectively) reported that the correlation with educational standards was the most important factor contributing to utilization of MIDAS materials. When asked about the degree to which the MIDAS Project impacted classroom learning an increasing number of teachers 80% in 2006 compared to 57% in 2005 agreed or strongly agreed that their students made connections between the MIDAS components (thematically related curriculum-based classroom lessons FEs and seminars). Summative: Results – Summer Institute Implementation Survey assesses the extent to which the teachers increased their EHS knowledge and implemented MIDAS curricular materials in their classrooms. Overall the survey results indicate that the SI was instrumental in providing new content knowledge and skills. Most of the responding teachers (86%) reported that they have spent more time teaching environmental issues as a result of SI training and 95% stated that they either have used (88%) or plan to use (7%) the SI curricular materials in their classrooms. A majority of the teachers (82%) reported that the SI had a positive impact on their classroom teaching strategies and 90% expressed overall satisfaction with the curricular materials. Many of the teachers (73%) who did use the curricular materials in their classrooms reported doing so effectively.

  • Resources for Sharing

    The project has supported the development of integrated classroom ready curricula designed to effectively address state and national education standards. Integrated classroom implementation is enriched with thematically coordinated field experiences (FEs) and seminars. Project staff and scientists collaborate with MIDAS teacher teams (4th-8th grades) to develop and test the EHS curricula including: “HOLES: Can You Dig It?” is a unit built around the children’s book “Holes” by Texas author Louis Sachar. This integrated unit incorporates EHS themes into lessons on sun exposure and dehydration in science; the hero archetype and conflict and character development in language arts; famous Texas inventions and the study of historical artifacts in social studies; and digging and calculating the volume of a large hole in math. “It’s Elemental” focuses on the periodic table. A series of hands-on integrated activities explore the properties and uses of calcium and gold. Students explore principles of the elements Texas limestone aquifers and groundwater contamination in science; the environmental impacts of gold-mining in language arts; the history and trade impacts of the development of the Erie Canal in the calcium-rich Niagara escarpment in social studies; and perimeter and surface area calculations of calcite crystals in math. “Veggie-Mon” is a web-based curriculum that teaches about environmental causes of disease and encourages healthy lifestyle choices that reduce risk. The website addresses the most pressing EHS issues facing our communities including healthy diet sun exposure and smoking. Math reading and problem-solving skills are integrated in a series of hands-on classroom-based activities focusing on BMI calculations and metric conversions a UV exposure experiment using a variety of protectants and an anti-tobacco campaign.

Project Audience

K-12 educators and students.

Subjects Addressed

Environmental health science.