The achievement gap in science begins in elementary school, where many students lose interest in science-related studies, particularly students from traditionally underrepresented groups. The “My Health My World” Project (hereafter, “the Project”), developed at Baylor College of Medicine with the assistance of federal funds, is a national effort to address this problem.
The Project’s goals are to make science appealing and relevant for elementary school students (i.e., kindergarten through grade five), including those from underrepresented minorities (URMs), and easy to teach for teachers and parents. It is achieving this goal by the development of interdisciplinary instructional materials that use environmental health issues as a unifying theme.
The Project provides its materials (including take-home materials for parents) and training for teachers at seven dissemination centers across the country, established in 1997. Workshops are also held to train facilitators, chosen from among local science education leaders, who in turn hold workshops to train other teachers. Each center receives a mini-grant to cover costs related to the training it provides, and all coordinate their training to offer comparable experiences for all participants. Field tests in 1995, 1996, and 1997 involving culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse students and teachers in two sites indicate that the participating teachers found that the Project’s materials promote science learning and enthusiasm for science and are easy to use and engaging for teachers.
Ratings for workshops in 1998 were also high for all characteristics evaluated. All signs after the Project’s first full year of dissemination activities (1998) indicate that it will continue to reach more teachers and students across the nation and will eventually help more students from all backgrounds achieve in science-related studies.