Science Promotion in Rural Middle Schools

  • Project Description

    Project Goals: 1. Develop curricular materials for veterinarians to present in schools using Veterinarians- Black Bag (VBB) items follow-up lessons for teachers to present and take-home pamphlets for parents and the general public. 2. Provide professional development training for public school teachers for instructions on implementation of the follow-up lessons training for veterinary medical students to improve educational outreach and communication skills and formal continuing education seminars for veterinarians on how to use the VBB items and how to increase communication effectiveness in public schools. 3. Engage large numbers of middle-school students and teachers by veterinarian visits on topics that promote science research and careers in biomedical sciences capitalizing on the natural interest of children in animals and in the work of veterinarians.

  • Abstract

    Long-term goals are to develop evaluate and disseminate nationwide an engaging Rural Science Promotion Model that integrates biomedical sciences into middle schools to enhance understanding of the value and ethics of research and the clinical trail process. Research education and careers will be fostered through development of interactive curricula professional development and classroom visits from local veterinarians. Rural schools have a prevalence of environmentally-related and zoonotic diseases difficulty in recruiting science teachers and less interaction with scientific professionals who could influence their career choices. Middle school is the prime developmental period for social skills and academic competence. Information on the history of drug and medical device development and associated diseases will be integrated into science curricula and disseminated into rural (and other) underserved settings through veterinarians’ school visits and follow-up lessons teachers present. Specific aims are to: 1) develop curricular materials [Veterinarians’ Black Bags (VBBs) of hands-on and demonstrational materials follow-up lessons and pamphlets] directed at K-12 and the general public that support local veterinarians’ visits into rural public middle schools to promote science understanding of the clinical trial process and responsible use of animals in research; 2) provide professional development for public school teachers (on how to present follow-up lessons) for veterinary students (course work elective on communication through outreach) and for veterinarians (continuing education training with public school communication strategies and streaming videos on how to present materials in the VBBs); and 3) promote the application of science and value of biomedical and clinical research by veterinary students and local veterinarians’ visits into rural public middle schools. They will illustrate the use of scientific method in disease diagnosis promoteunderstanding of the problem-solving value of biomedical research funded by NIH to address animal and human health issues and promote careers in science and biomedical fields. Phase I will develop the model of veterinarians in the public school classroom in Texas and Phase II will disseminate the model and materials nationwide. Public understanding of the process and accomplishments of animal research for both animal and human health will be enhanced. Likewise knowledge of the process by which drugs and medical devices (appliances) become approved and available for public use will be promoted. Through this unique Rural Science Promotion Model a larger number of underrepresented students throughout Texas and the nation will be encouraged to enter and remain in science academic tracks to better meet the nation’s needed scientific and biomedical workforce.

  • Dissemination Strategies

    We aim to disseminate the project throughout the United States. The project will initially target contacts cultivated by the Texas A&M PEER program comprised of 287 Texas public school districts enrolling over 311000 students in K-12. Specifically we will utilize state and national veterinary associations veterinary annual meetings state and national teacher conferences teacher professional development meeting and take-home pamphlets for parents as methods for dissemination.

  • Project Evaluation(s)

    Evaluation Goals – 1. Determine whether the project produced high-quality materials for use by veterinarians and middle school science teachers that can impact middle school students’ interest in science veterinary medicine and careers in these fields and their awareness of the project’s focus areas of animal research and clinical trials. 2. Determine whether the project provided veterinarians and teachers with needed support and training in order to appropriately and effectively implement the materials developed by the project. 3. Determine how many veterinarians teachers and students have been touched by the project’s efforts. 4. Determine how veterinarians teachers and students have been impacted by implementation of the project’s strategies. Evaluation of Materials – 1. An expert panel organized and facilitated by the West Texas Office of Evaluation and Research (WTER; the external evaluation group) will review the materials and identify strengths and weaknesses. 2. After the materials are revised based on the panel’s suggestions project staff will facilitate field testing of the materials. Surveys will be given to veterinarians teachers students and parents in an effort to determine how materials were implemented changes in students’ interests attitudes and awareness of project’s focus. Evaluation of Professional Development – Project staff will create surveys of professional development workshops for teachers and veterinarians. The surveys will be evaluated by internal and external evaluation teams. WTER will also interview teachers and veterinarians involved in the field testing of the materials. Results of the surveys and interviews will be reported to the project staff so that modifications to the professional development opportunities can be made. Evaluation of Dissemination Efforts and Project Impact – Project staff will create a database of participation and impact records of the materials and will expand this to include records and impact from the online dissemination of project materials. The web-based dissemination will allow data collection from veterinarians and teachers who access the materials online. Follow-up surveys will be sent electronically to gather information about numbers of students reached and the impact of the use of the materials on students’ interests attitudes and awareness of project targeted areas. Results of veterinarian teacher student and parent surveys and interviews with veterinarians and teachers will be used to determine the project impact. WTER will work with project staff and management in examining the evidence of impact and in reporting that evidence in annual reports.

  • Resources for Sharing

    From the Texas A&M PEER website teachers veterinarians and the general public can access several helpful resources. 1. Curricular Modules: two Environmental Health Science curricula for middle schools. 2. Teacher Requested Resources: searchable and browsable collection of resources collected at the request of Texas middle school teachers. 3. Teacher eMentoring: pages covering all aspects of a teacher-s needs. 4. Virtual Scientists- Presentation and Interviews: online scientific presentation on Anthrax Smoking and the Respiratory System as well as online interviews with scientists. 5. At complete modules consisting of veterinarians- presentations corresponding activities and worksheets as well as follow-up lessons can be accessed and downloaded.

Project Audience

K-12 teachers parents community

Subjects Addressed

Curriculum units include clinical trials animal use in research arthritis cancer dental health diabetes heart disease infectious diseases neutering nutrition and obesity parasites physical exam vaccinations.