Science Seminar Speaker: Health in Our Hands Team, CREATE for STEM


Wednesday, February 27, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm


115 Erickson Hall

Title: Health in Our Hands: A community-based approach to teaching and learning science

Presenters: Idit Adler, Ph.D., Consuelo Morales, MPH, Ph.D., Renee Bayer, MHSA

Abstract: Research shows that students’ interest, motivation and excitement of learning science declines over the course of their education. This decline corresponds with a poor understanding of core scientific ideas, low achievements on national and international testing, and a persistent achievement gap among students of diverse social-economic background. One reason for this decline is that learners perceive science and science education as ‘irrelevant’ both for themselves and for society. To tackle these issues, we developed Health in Our Hands (HiOH), a middle school science curriculum that focuses on disciplinary core idea of gene-environment interactions and their effect on health issues that impact students and their families– diabetes and addiction. The curriculum was enacted across 6th grade classrooms in a large high-needs urban district in a Midwestern state for three consecutive school years (nstudents=1000; nteachers=20). In our talk, we will describe the design principles of HiOH, which include: (a) A community-based participatory approach to curriculum development and enactment; (b) Focus on developing students’ conceptual understanding through project-based and 3-dimensional learning; and (c) Community action inquiry projects in which students examine local health-related issues in their community to support social action through a scientific understanding. Based on a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data, we will present students’ learning outcomes that developed by engaging in HiOH instruction: (1) Understanding the core idea of gene-environment interactions; (2) Positive interest, attitudes and motivation towards learning science; (3) Development of personal competencies: collaborators, experts in their community, and agents of change; (4) Acknowledgement of the relevance of science to self, family and community; and (5) Ability to engage in critical discussions about their community. Our research demonstrates how HiOH provides opportunities for all students, with particular focus on non-dominant students, to learn science in a meaningful way.

Bios: Idit Adler, Ph.D. in science education, is the curriculum lead for Health in Our Hands. She is a research associate at CREATE for STEM Institute.

Consuelo J. Morales, MPH, Ph.D. in science education, is the professional development lead for Health in Our Hands. She is a former middle and high school science teacher. She is a research associate at CREATE for STEM Institute.

Renee Bayer, MHSA in public health, is the Health in Our Hands project manager. She is the associate director for engagement at CREATE for STEM Institute.

You can also follow this project on social media at:

* Instagram: @health_in_our_hands
* Twiter: @health_io_hands
* Facebook: @HiOHproject * Website: