The REACH Program Brings Science Practices to Students: A Teacher’s Perspective
Programs and curriculum which provide opportunities for students to participate in scientific practices are critical as science education transitions from teaching collections of facts to facilitating investigation and problem-solving experiences. The Research Education on Air and Cardiovascular Health (REACH) Program provides a framework and support for teachers to incorporate rudimentary scientific research into middle and high school science classrooms. Eleven participating teachers and five agency stakeholders were interviewed about their experiences implementing the REACH program and major themes were identified and discussed. Interviewees highlighted the benefits of program participation for students, including making science more relevant, increasing student engagement with science practices, and increasing student confidence in their ability to conduct scientific investigations. Benefits for teachers were emphasized, including curricular flexibility, engagement to be life-long learners, and opportunities for networking and collaborating with other teachers. The stakeholder partners shared benefits including increasing student awareness of public health and air quality concerns, reinforcing their work within communities, and stories of individual student successes. Barriers identified were related to time and resources that influenced program participation. Overall, results showed the importance of incorporating a research component into the classroom, enhancing the learning and teaching experiences for students, teachers, and stakeholders.