Turning K–12 Environmental STEM Education InSciEd Out
Our goal in the work proposed here is to provide a new educational approach toward the longer endgame of more deeply connecting students to their community and environment. The InSciEd Out science education infrastructure provides the tools to do this by offering the opportunity to actively engage youth, especially the most vulnerable in our population, in important addiction, obesity, and vaccination science questions during K–12 years. We seek to move beyond student engagement to student learning of STEM, beyond student-led science that is “new to me” to STEM research that is new to the world. Finally, we aim to bring the science of real and timely health risks to teachers and students, such that they may, through their own inquiry, come to make choices that lead to life-long healthier outcomes.
There is a strong need to develop quality students who receive undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Current methods, however, continue to be non-inclusive of students of color and those marginalized by socioeconomic status.
Environmental issues are some of the highest priority global concerns, including climate change, food security, and water shortages, and adequately addressing these issues will require people with a high level of skill across STEM. We here propose the use of education as an intervention into student health, their environment and community, an idea we call “Prescription Education.” We aim to integrate the concept of “prescription education” into STEM education reform with a focus on Environmental Science.
Our specific aims include:
- Establishment of an Environmental Science hub for our program, Integrated Science Education Outreach (InSciEd Out) with a focus on toxicology
- The creation of a transgenic and mutant zebrafish resource for use in environmental toxicology by all STEM researchers.
The successful completion of the InSciEd Out Prescription Education work in Environmental Sciences described herein will result in: Vetted K–12 classroom curriculum in Environmental Toxicity; A framework for scaling STEM interventions; and a molecular toolbox for improving STEM education through the use of the highly accessible zebrafish model system.