Young scientists and ambitious teachers improving health in an urban ecosystem

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 to Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Media and Technology, Websites, Mobile Apps, and Online Media, Public Programs, Citizen Science Programs, Community Outreach Programs, Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Professional Development and Workshops, Informal/Formal Connections, Higher Education Programs
Youth/Teen (up to 17) | Undergraduate/Graduate Students | General Public | Educators/Teachers | Museum/ISE Professionals
Health and medicine
Access and Inclusion: 
Low Socioeconomic Status
Iowa State University of Science and Technology
Description or Abstract: 

People of color who live in low income, urban communities experience lower levels of educational attainment than whites and continue to be underrepresented in science at all educational and professional levels. It is widely accepted that this underrepresentation in science is related, not only to processes of historical exclusion and racism, but to how science is commonly taught and that investigating authentic, relevant science questions can improve engagement and learning of underrepresented students. Approaching science in these ways, however, requires new teaching practices, including ways of relating cross-culturally. In addition to inequity in science and broader educational outcomes, people of color from low income, urban communities experience high rates of certain health problems that can be directly or indirectly linked to mosquitoes. Recognizing that undertaking public health research and preventative outreach efforts in these communities is challenging, there is a critical need for an innovative approach that leverages local youth resources for epidemiological inquiry and education. Such an approach would motivate the pursuit of science among historically-excluded youth while, additionally, involving pre-service, in-service, and informal educators in joint participatory inquiry structured around opportunities to learn and practice authentic, ambitious science teaching and learning.

Our long-term goal is to interrupt the reproduction of educational and health disparities in a low-income, urban context and to support historically-excluded youth in their trajectories toward science. This will be accomplished through the overall objective of this project to promote authentic science, ambitious teaching, and an orientation to science pursuits among elementary students participating in a university-school-community partnership promise program, through inquiry focused on mosquitoes and human health. The following specific aims will be pursued in support of the objective:

1. Historically-excluded youth will develop authentic science knowledge, skills, and dispositions, as well as curiosity, interest, and positive identification with science, and motivation for continued science study by participating in a scientific community and engaging in the activities and discourses of the discipline. Teams of students and educators will engage in community-based participatory research aimed at assessing and responding to health and well-being issues that are linked to mosquitoes in urban, low-income communities. In addition, the study of mosquitoes will engage student curiosity and interest, enhance their positive identification with science, and motivate their continued study.

2. Informal and formal science educators will demonstrate competence in authentic and ambitious science teaching and model an affirming orientation toward cultural diversity in science. Pre-service, in-service, and informal educators will participate in courses and summer institutes where they will be exposed to ambitious teaching practices and gain proficiency, through reflective processes such as video study, in adapting traditional science curricula to authentic science goals that meet the needs of historically excluded youth.

3. Residents in the community will display more accurate understandings and transformed practices with respect to mosquitoes in the urban ecosystem in service of enhanced health and well-being. Residents will learn from an array of youth-produced, culturally responsive educational materials that will be part of an ongoing outreach and prevention campaign to raise community awareness of the interplay between humans and mosquitoes.

These outcomes are expected to have an important positive impact because they have potential for improving both immediate and long-term educational and health outcomes of youth and other residents in a low-income, urban community.

Funding Program: 
Award Number: 
R25 OD020213

Team Members

Gale SeilerGale SeilerPrincipal Investigator
Lyric Colleen BartholomayLyric Colleen BartholomayContact

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