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NIH Releases New Materials for Classroom Use

By Margaret Warker

NIH is launching a major new curriculum supplement series for grades kindergarten through 12 that will be distributed to teachers around the country to improve science literacy and to foster students' interest in science. The curriculum supplements will contain the latest information about medical discoveries made at NIH and their effects on public health.

The first three supplements (listed below) were developed by the Office of Science Education in cooperation with NIH institutes and curriculum developers from Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) of Colorado Springs and Videodiscovery, Inc. of Seattle.

  • Cell Biology and Cancer (with NCI)
  • Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases (with NIAID)
  • Human Genetic Variation (with NHGRI)

These units, designed for use in senior high school classrooms, contain extensive background information for teachers and use creative inquiry-based activities to promote active learning. Each comes with an interactive CD-ROM.

Three teachers who attended a recent teacher-training seminar on the new NIH Curriculum Supplements won trips to NIH. Their names were drawn by three NIH scientists who spoke at the seminar and are from the institutes cosponsoring the supplements with OSE. Together they are (from l) Paul C. King of Randolph High School, Mass.; Dr. Dinah Singer of NCI; Dr. Alan Guttmacher of NHGRI; Marjorie King of Jefferson Parish Public School System, La.; Kathleen Gabric of Hinsdale Central High School, Ill.; and Dr. Karyl Sue Barron of NIAID.

The new curricula are aligned with the National Science Education Standards released by the National Academy of Sciences in December 1995 to outline what all students should know by the time they graduate from high school. Teachers and students across the country participated in focus groups and field tests of the curricula during the development process.

OSE and BSCS are offering a series of workshops to train educators to use the new units in their classrooms; one was held in October at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) annual convention in Ft. Worth, Tex. Also at the NABT convention, three NIH scientists (Dr. Karyl Sue Barron of NIAID, Dr. Alan E. Guttmacher of NHGRI and Dr. Dinah D. Singer of NCI) conducted a seminar on recent discoveries related to the supplement topics. Three of the teachers in attendance won trips to visit NIH and the institutes cosponsoring the first three units: Kathleen Gabric, biology teacher at Hinsdale Central High School, Ill.; Marjorie King, K-12 science consultant at Jefferson Parish Public School System, La.; and Paul C. King, science teacher at Randolph High School, Mass.

Additional supplements with accompanying CD-ROMs or Web-based activities are planned. The following are scheduled for release in the winter of 2000:

  • The Mouth: A Window on Good Health (with NIDCR for first, second and third grades)
  • The Neurobiology of Addiction (with NIDA for high school)
  • Human Health and the Environment (with NIEHS for middle school)

And, these units are planned for release in the winter of 2001:

  • The Ear: A Sensitive, Rapid but Fragile Sound Processor (with NIDCD for middle school)
  • Understanding Alcohol: Separating Fact from Fiction (with NIAAA for middle school)
  • Sleep, Sleep Disorders and the Brain (with NHLBI for high school)

For more information, visit the OSE Web site at

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