Social Media–Based STEM Enrichment Curriculum Positively Impacts Rural Adolescent Health Measures

Published:2018, Journal of STEM Outreach
28 Apr 2018; 1(2)
Authors:Chester A, Hanks S, Kuhn S, Jones F, White T, Harris M, Hornbeck B, McKendall S, McMillion M, Morton C, Slusser M, Saunder R.

Rural communities, adolescent, prevention, social media, STEM outreach

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Some STEM outreach programs connect students to real-world problems and challenge them to work to¬wards solutions. Research shows one-third of children between ages 5–17 in the U.S. are overweight. Socioeconomic status, race, and parental educational attainment all influence this issue as well as living in a rural or urban area. A rural high school STEM outreach program used a social media curriculum focused on healthy lifestyles and measured impact on the health of adolescents from these backgrounds. Health screenings and college mentors were provided to 134 adolescents from 26 counties in WV. The social media intervention lasted seven months with participants using near-peer and mentor support to achieve personal health goals set at the initial health screening. The results of pre- and post-intervention health screenings were compared for any changes in health measures by student goal and participation. BMI decreased significantly in the group of participants who selected a weight loss goal, while those choosing to improve their nutrition significantly increased healthy cholesterol levels. A positive impact was seen on adolescent health outcomes through linking a high school STEM outreach program with a higher education institution to deliver STEM enrichment curriculum through social media.