The Science Teaching Excites Medical Interest (STEMI) project is a collaboration among an academic health science center faculty and graduate students, a nationally-recognized Telehealth dissemination capacity, and Mississippi science teachers, will improve the quality of high school teacher training and facilitate electronic delivery of rigorous science lessons to students across the state and beyond. Improving the development of the state’s future health science workforce will help address access-to-care disparities and meet the public health needs of the state’s currently under-served population.
Science Teaching Excites Medical Interest (STEMI), brings University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) biomedical research experts and graduate students, UMMC’s nationally acclaimed Telehealth capacity, and K–12 Mississippi school districts together to initiate a technologically-enhanced, teacher-centered community of health learners focused on the public health topics of core causes of obesity and associated cardiovascular disease. This STEMI community will develop, evaluate the efficacy of and broadly disseminate high school learning products that address the obesity crisis now eroding public health across Mississippi and the nation. UMMC faculty experts in bioscience, anthropology, quantitative and qualitative data analysis, and program evaluation will guide high school science teachers from participant schools, highly representative of the state’s diversity of experiences and resources, as they develop, apply, and disseminate new technological approaches with which to engage students in the overall STEMI program focus: exploring causal relationships between low levels of health literacy, the state’s epidemic of obesity, and ensuing anatomic and functional pathophysiology.
STEMI’s two-year, closely-mentored exposure to the technologies and curriculum elements underlying successful implementations of Flipped Learning/Classroom (FL/C) science instruction, will provide teachers with the tools to develop and hone proficiency in delivering to students a core set of UMMC bioscience researcher-developed learning modules aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. These modules will specifically address cardiovascular health concerns directly impacted by nutrition and obesity. A UMMC anthropologist will collaborate with teachers to develop networked approaches for contextualizing the modules within thematic examinations of social determinants of health, including health literacy, food access, and food insecurity, and their impact on health disparities, behaviors, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Summative, multisite, telecast presentations will also be created to broadly introduce school communities, peers and families to the STEMI community of health learners.
STEMI faculty will support 4 groups of teachers through 2-year cycles of CVD-themed, didactic summer and weekend technology training. This highly structured training will guide the design of FL/C explorations of topics in obesity and health; guide pilot incorporations of classroom technology tools; and electronically facilitate interactive presentations on nutrition, obesity, food access/insecurity, and health literacy across school sites. Upon gaining competency in technologies needed to prepare and implement FL/C STEMI theme-based lessons, these teachers, to include 8 veterans in the first cycle and extend to 8 early- to mid-career science teachers in the next 3 groups, will collaborate with UMMC graduate students in clinical anatomy (CA) to develop and deploy curricula that demonstrate student-centered explorations of real world problems.
Mentored integration of technological skills acquired through STEMI training, alongside graduate student modeling of research practices, will increase teacher effectiveness in encouraging students to:
- develop 21st century skills and practices that can facilitate success in entering careers informed by biomedical sciences,
- connect longitudinally with peers and educators through selected projects that evaluate scientific findings and their intersections with social determinants of health,
- learn methods for assessing, strengthening, and communicating key public health issues within communities of learning,
- gain fluency in state-of-the-art technologies and communications with peers, collaborators, mentors, and local learning communities, and
- further understanding that technologically facilitated collaborations can provide thoughtful solutions to contemporary problems in bioscientific, public health, and health education dilemmas.
At its close, building on project assessment across program lifetime, STEMI will validate a model collaborative training network, the structure and focus of which can be replicated by any academic health science center with a desire to advance Next Generation Science Standards and to promote excellence in STEM education.
High school STEM teachers and students
Health literacy, social determinants of health, science pedagogy, STEM, public health