The Center for Environmental Health Sciences at The University of Montana recently received a five-year, $1.25 million Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will support environmental science education for 4,300 middle and high school students throughout Montana, Alaska and Idaho.
The project, the Clean Air and Healthy Homes Program, builds on CEHS’s successful Air Toxics Under the Big Sky Program, which was funded by SEPA in 2003.
Researchers and educators will develop inquiry-based science lessons that will prepare students to conduct their own research projects focused on air pollutants that can affect human health, such as particulate matter, radon and carbon monoxide. Teachers will receive training, curriculum and air-sampling equipment to guide environmental health science education and research in the classroom.
UM Associate Professor Tony Ward said students will learn practical applications for the scientific concepts they’re studying. Corvallis High School students already have started studying the effects of recent forest-fire smoke in their homes and school. Student participants in the program also will look at the impacts of carbon monoxide and radon inside their homes, with the aim of preventing future exposures.
“The kids are doing real-world science,” Ward said. “They’re learning the principals of how to think like a scientist, but they’re addressing the issues that affect their homes and their families.”
In addition to the in-school program, 30 CAHHP teachers will have the opportunity to pursue graduate coursework in environmental health and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, also known as STEM.
Teachers will be eligible for up to 12 graduate credits that can be applied toward a new online master’s program currently being developed by UM. It is anticipated that the first cohort of teachers will be enrolled in the program next summer.
For more information call Ward at 406-243-4092 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call CEHS Director Andrij Holian at 406-243-4018 or email email@example.com.