The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it will provide nearly $11.5 million to fund 11 Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA) across the nation. The SEPA projects are designed to inform the public about health issues, foster science literacy, and encourage students to consider careers in the health sciences.
Through mobile laboratories, portable science kits, planetarium films, and online activities, these SEPA projects will provide hands-on, inquiry-based, instruction on topics such as cardiovascular risk factors, genetic testing, and diabetes treatment and prevention. Participants will study multiple research-related issues, learn about the clinical trials process, and examine their own health and lifestyle choices.
"These programs reach out to students and their families, and target some of the most important issues in medicine today such as ethics, evidence-based medicine, and bioinformatics," said Barbara M. Alving, M.D., Acting Director of NCRR. "We also want to show students that they have the opportunity to envision careers in medicine, clinical research, drug discovery, and the basic sciences."
SEPA programs reach out to students in rural and underserved communities by funding K-12 classroom activities, as well as science centers and museum exhibits across the country. The awards support professional development for science teachers; the development and distribution of hands-on science curricula; traveling exhibits; and Websites for students, teachers, and the general public.
In the initial three-year phase, partnerships are formed among biomedical and clinical researchers, educators, community groups, and other interested organizations to create programs that provide a better understanding of scientific research. In a second, two-year phase these SEPA-generated curricula are broadly disseminated.