Weaving together schools and communities through models in action

Authors: 

Idit Adler, Jane Lee, Krista Damery, Renee Bayer, and Joseph Krajcik

In “What controls my health?”, middle school students build a model of Type 2 diabetes to understand how genes and the environment interact to affect their health. After a series of lessons scaffolded by the online SageModeler program students then take this classroom learning to the next step and their models become a starting point for the students’ community projects. In the community action project the class is transformed into a research group whose goal is to examine a health issue in the nearby environment that can be changed to improve the community’s health. In the final step of using their models in action, students present the results of their research projects back to families and the broader community with their recommendations for program and policy change. “What controls my health?” is part of Health in Our Hands (formerly A New Genomic Framework for Schools and Communities), a 5-year project funded by the Science Education Partnership Award (National Institutes of Health). The curriculum is currently being field tested in all 6th grade classrooms in Flint Community Schools (400 students) and one public charter school in Detroit (200 students) later this spring. Project collaborators include: University of Michigan School of Public Health and College of Engineering; Flint Community Schools, Community Based Organization Partners, the Sloan Museum, the Flint Public Library, the Concord Consortium in Massachusetts and multiple partners in Detroit: University Preparatory Schools, Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Detroit Public Library, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Michigan Science Center and Friends of Parkside.

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Submitted by Renee Bayer on