Mind Project’s Cutting Edge Health Science Initiative

Project Website(s)

  • Project Description

    The project will produce 7-10 interactive online experiences in an immersive virtual world. Three representative modules have students performing the following activities: As a neurobiological researcher the student studies (virtual) rats to determine the physiological and behavioral impact of cocaine on dopamine levels in the brain and the implications for curbing addiction As an endovascular surgeon the student diagnoses a brain aneurysm and performs a coiling procedure on a (virtual) human to prevent stroke As a neurobiologist the student lesions a (virtual) rat gathers data on when neurotransmitters fall to levels inhibiting natural movement and consider whether the data confirms or disconfirms a new theory explaining the surprising profile of Parkinson’s brain function Online supporting materials will be created that will 1) make it easy to integrate virtual experiences into curricula using traditional science and health textbooks and 2) give professional development training to (pre-service and in-service) teachers on the effective use of these teaching materials. Medical science modules will be piloted in a dozen middle and high schools. College curriculum materials will be piloted in the college of education on two university campuses as well as in summer workshops.

  • Abstract

    This project will develop refine and disseminate curriculum materials and professional development materials that will bring cutting-edge breakthroughs in health science into middle school and high school classrooms across the country by placing students in the center of virtual online science laboratories where they conduct experiments with dramatic results. A partnership between the Mind Project Learning Community the MIT Press Bowie State University (Maryland) and Illinois State University will produce customizable enhancements modules that will help K-12 teachers and their students keep abreast of cutting-edge developments in science especially health science.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    Promotion of materials through: SciLinks Consortium on Mind/Brain Science Instruction NSTA newsletters education journals and conferences. Curriculum piloted to 12000 middle school and high school students. Summer workshops for pre-service and in-service teachers. Curriculum modules integrated into education curriculum at two undergraduate institutions in the pilot then expanded to others.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    The formative evaluation of the Mind Project Curriculum will be conducted by a team of evaluators led by Dr. Karen K. Lind director of the Center for Mathematics Science and Technology (CeMaST) at Illinois State University. Evaluation will address both formative issues pertaining to ongoing programmatic development and needs and more summative issues related to the impact of this project on the quality of health related teaching and learning in grades 5-12. The evaluation will provide information of direct interest and relevance to the project staff NIH more broadly and the health education community. Summative evaluative will be conducted by Dr. John Mauw an experienced evaluator of federal projects. Quantitative and qualitative data will be collected with respect to the achievement of project goals and activities. The effectiveness of specific activities to meet project goals will be evaluated through the use of surveys interviews artifacts and existing databases and on-site observations. Data collection instruments and interview protocols will be developed to address the specific activities and implementation of the project. The evaluation team will regularly visit project classrooms and interview project teachers district administrators university scientists and mathematicians and health professionals involved in the project. Evaluation summaries and reports of project activities will be shared with the project staff on a regular basis. Instrumentation: Classroom observation instruments and rubrics will be adapted from the Classroom Observation Handbook and Protocol developed as part of the NSF Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETPC) Program Core Evaluation Project. These instruments will be used to collect data from individual classrooms and schools. Additionally teacher and student surveys will be adapted from the CETP Core Evaluation Handbook for Evaluation of Activities and Assessments. Interview protocols will be developed to provide data related to the research. For example our research team would like to determine if a positive class reaction to the Mind Project materials is related to socioeconomic status age letter grade level of academic tracking and other factors. The Mind Project materials will be readily assessable to a wide variety of classroom. Curriculum Alignment with Standards: The Mind Project curriculum will emphasize the connections among the traditional disciplines of mathematics and science and when appropriate those of technology education. The module content and methodology will be reviewed to assure alignment with appropriate national standards which traditionally guide and/or influence the development of state and school district level standards. Follow-up: A database of project participants will enable us to follow up with teacher and student participants in subsequent years to determine ongoing use and impact of the curricular materials. Teacher and student data will be reviewed each year for project effectiveness so as to guide revisions. Answers to the following questions will be sought: Did the materials and technologies result in a substantial increase in the number of students who are familiar with and interested in our topics in medical science? In what way are teachers utilizing the Mind Project curriculum as an integral part of classroom instruction?

  • Resources for Sharing

    Online virtual experiences and professional development materials (see “Project Description”) will be available for free. (Note: None of our labs is yet out of beta-testing so they are only available to those willing to pilot and evaluate them .) Online curriculum modules will be available for teachers and middle and high school students. See examples from a previous NSF grant that produced modules to introduce cognitive science to freshmen and sophomores in college: http://www.mind.ilstu.edu/curriculum/list.php?sortBy=category

Project Audience

Middle school and high school students; in-service and pre-service teachers.

Subjects Addressed

Fields of Study: Biology (esp. neurobiology) psychology (esp. cognitive) physiology (esp. brain) artificial intelligence and robotics mind-brain enhancements (the science and the moral and social issues) theories of the mind/self Medical Conditions: Cocaine addiction Parkinson’s Disease stroke neurosurgery deep brain stimulation (other topics to be determined)