Access to Science Education Increased for Washington State Kids, Families
SEATTLE: June 25, 2012 — Over the past three years, more than 20,000 students at 135 schools in Washington State have participated in the Science Adventure Lab program, an initiative launched by Seattle Children’s Research Institute in 2009. The program aims to improve access to high quality, hands-on science education for students. The Science Adventure Lab serves under-resourced rural and urban schools, and offers authentic laboratory experiences to students where resources and personnel to provide these activities are limited.
Now, thanks to a $1.1 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Science Adventure Lab program will be expanded to include structured activities for families. The NIH grant is a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), which funds innovative educational programs in which scientists work as partners with K-12 teachers and schools. Drs. Amanda Jones and Mark Ruffo from the Research Institute’s Science Education Department are the principal investigators on this project.
Schools enrolled in the project to date include Wilkeson Elementary in White River, Neah Bay Elementary in Cape Flattery, Evergreen Elementary in Bethel, Skyline Elementary in Lake Stevens, Lakeridge Elementary in Renton and Sunrise Elementary in Puyallup. As part of the five-year plan, fourth-graders at the participating schools will complete two inquiry-based, hands-on curriculum modules on the Science Adventure Lab, a 45-foot mobile science lab.
Modules will focus on cardiovascular health and neuroscience. Families of participating students will be invited to attend two events, including a “Science Night” at the school and a “Science Day” at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, where they will extend skills and knowledge already developed, tour the facility, interact with scientists and learn about the importance of scientific research and clinical trials for building a healthy community.
“In addition to inspiring kids to become the next generation of STEM professionals, we hope to help families appreciate the importance of science and provide them with resources to support their child’s interest in science,” said Dr. Jones, director of the Science Education Department at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Increasing STEM literacy among K-12 students has become an important federal initiative.
As part of the five-year project, project staff will measure the impact of school visits and family activities. “We’ll assess whether this approach can be an effective way to get families and kids interested in science and encourage conversations about science at home,” said Dr. Ruffo, manager, Science Education Department.
The project is intended to not only provide education for kids and families, but to also spur interest in science-related careers. “We are at a significant disadvantage in today’s society if people don’t understand science and technology,” said Dr. Jones. “The students that we reach don’t all have to become scientists, but we do see the Science Adventure Lab as one way to make a difference in building the future workforce of Washington State.”
- Video: Dr. Jones on the importance of science education for students and youngsters in Washington State, Dr. Ruffo provides tips for parents: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Tevaduln0I
- Blog Post: http://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/new-funding-allows-seattle-childrens-science-adventure-lab-to-expand/
- Photos of Science Adventure Lab, students and statistics for the Lab initiative: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adventurelab/sets/72157622279974295/
About Seattle Children’s Research Institute
Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the Research Institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics, among others. As part of Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Research Institute brings together leading minds in pediatric research to provide patients with the best care possible. Seattle Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org/research.