Teaching to Learn: WV-HSTA Students Take CBPR to Their Community
The Health Sciences & Technology Academy, known as HSTA, is a one-of-a-kind mentoring program in the state of West Virginia that helps participating high school students enter and succeed in STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs. HSTA marshals the efforts of hundreds of mentors — teachers, community members, higher-education faculty and staff, and the HSTA participants themselves — through a framework that supports students facing social and financial challenges to obtaining a diploma and moving on to college.
The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) of West Virginia University, Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, submits this proposal with the novel approach of using Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) focused on metabolic syndrome and prevention as the format to bring together biomedical researchers and high school teachers to disseminate science education to 9th–12th grade students from medically underserved communities. The objective is to create a novel design to improve health literacy and biomedical science education in hard to reach under-served Appalachian populations.
Critical components of CBPR will be embedded in a population-appropriate and age-appropriate context with inquiry based experiences using metabolic syndrome as the medical focus and incorporating life-style interventions centered on nutrition and exercise. Students and teachers will partner with scientists in metabolic syndrome and prevention research projects involving life-style interventions in which STUDENTS transmit their new knowledge and understanding to their families and to medically underserved communities. Underrepresented students will be encouraged to pursue careers in biomedical fields.
Students leading in the education and community involvement will aid in dismantling barriers between researchers clinicians and patients from under-represented populations; and between researchers and potential under-represented participants in CBPR.
This proposal will focus on the following specific aims:
Specific Aim 1: To provide summer teacher professional development to 12 teachers/year while introducing CBPR opportunities to 160 11th grade students participating in a summer science enrichment experience.
Specific Aim 2: To provide summer science enrichment to 160 11th grade under-represented students a year in “learning by doing” as they engage in biomedical labs working with scientists on different aspects of the metabolic syndrome.
Specific Aim 3: To provide academic year science enrichment to 160 11th graders and 100 additional under-represented 9th–12th grade students/year in HSTA clubs across the state.
The outcomes of the proposed project are to expand on the past grant’s success of base-line data gathering to data gathering with interventions and to understand a new broader topic – metabolic syndrome. The impact of this proposal is to make health information and prevention strategies easily understandable and interesting to under-served populations and to improve the health of West Virginians through education on metabolic syndrome and its prevention.