WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Center for Excellence in Research, Teaching and Learning (CERTL) at Wake Forest University Health Sciences and three partners, including the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, have received a $1.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to further improve science education at all grade levels in area schools.
The project – Research, Education and Linking (REAL) Science Careers – will help teachers to use problem-based learning methods in their classrooms and to develop the needed instructional materials, said Ann Lambros, Ph.D., director of CERTL and assistant dean for medical education at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
The project also will include developing exhibits at SciWorks featuring current research on healthy lifestyle choices. Those exhibits would be turned into traveling kiosks for exhibit in the schools and the community..
Lambros said the grant, from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), was for five years.
CERTL began 10 years ago as an area program for both professional development of K-12 teachers and enrichment opportunities for K-12 students, One goal was to increase the number of students who achieve success in K-12 science and math courses and who pursue mathematics, the sciences, engineering and technology at the college level.
The new project is a partnership among CERTL, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, SciWorks and the General Clinical Research Center at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
“This project is designed to create and implement programs that better educate students regarding science concepts, the scientific inquiry process, and related careers,” Lambros said.
She said that national studies had found a gap between the need for scientists, engineers and a skilled technical work force and the people actually available.
Lambros said the National Science Board had found that one-fourth of the current science workforce is approaching retirement and is not being replaced in sufficient numbers. “Emerging national demographics suggest enough is not being done to attract women and underrepresented minorities to these professions.”
She said the objectives of the REAL Science Careers project include:
• Creating inquiry-based lesson plans for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms to engage students in a deeper understanding of the relationship between classroom science, research science, clinical research, and public health.
• Providing focused professional development activities for K-12 teachers to effectively deliver lessons using problem-based learning that deepen the understanding of the processes of scientific inquiry.
• Exposing students and teachers to career options in biomedical research through the development of inquiry-based lesson plans.
• Creating enrichment opportunities, such as summer programs and “mini-fellowships,” for students to attract them to careers in biomedical research.,
• Developing traveling scientific exhibits for promotion of healthy lifestyle choices that are anchored in interactive, hands-on experiences and directly linked to the classroom curricula, National Science Standards, and the latest research findings in specific topic areas.
• Promoting community awareness of healthy lifestyle choices through use of the traveling exhibits and related science museum activities.
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 35th in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.