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By: Debbie | May 8 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science and the Arts, Science Lite, Tidbits for Teachers

Weight of the Nation HBO series logo When eating out at a restaurant, pay attention to portion sizes. Some entrees are big enough to feed two people. Share a plate, or plan to take home half your meal. Learn more about America’s obesity problems by watching the HBO documentary series Weight of the Nation. To find more healthy eating tips, check out NIH resources:

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:

By: Debbie | April 19 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

Evolution in Medicien Cover ImageTeachers can now order the FREE new curriculum supplement, Evolution in Medicine, sponsored by 11 participating National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers and the Office of the Director. This supplement for grades 9 through 12 allows students to explore evolutionary principles and learn how evolution informs human health, biomedical problems, and disease treatment. The supplement contains two weeks of lessons that are easily integrated into your curriculum and are aligned to national and state standards.  Order your FREE copy today!

The following lessons are included in Evolution and Medicine:

Ideas about the Role of Evolution in Medicine

Students learn to recognize that understanding the mechanisms of evolution, especially adaptation by natural selection, enhances medical practice and knowledge. Using an evolutionary tree, explore how common ancestry shapes the characteristics of living organisms.

Investigating Lactose Intolerance and Evolution

Students can understand that natural selection is the only evolutionary mechanism to consistently yield adaptations and that some of the variation among humans that may affect health is distributed geographically.

Evolutionary Processes and Patterns Inform Medicine

Students examine how health and disease are related to human evolution and understand why some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. Analyze data and apply principles of natural selection to explain the relatively high frequency of disease in certain populations.

Using Evolution to Understand Influenza

Students understand how comparisons of genetic sequences are important for studying biomedical problems and informing public health decisions. Apply evolutionary theory to explain the emergence and spread of infectious diseases.

Evaluating Evolutionary Explanations

Students understand the importance of evidence in interpreting examples of evolution and medicine. Appreciate that natural selection and common ancestry can explain why humans are susceptible to many diseases.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education (NIHSciEd) through multiple channels:
By: Debbie | March 30 2012 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

On March 15 National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Francis Collins, visited Bladensburg High School where he played guitar, sang, and spoke to students in the biomedical sciences program about exciting new research advances and rewarding careers in science & technology. Collins visited the students as part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival’s Nifty Fifty (times 2) program intended to help foster middle and high school student interest in science and engineering. The Bladensburg High School event was also a precursor to the second annual Festival that will be held April 28-29 at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. Don’t worry if you missed this performance. You can see Dr. Collins perform at the Festival on Sunday, April 29, at 11:30 a.m. on Curie Stage.

You can read more about Dr. Collins' Bladensburg High School visit in a recent article.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Cindy, Cynthia | March 1 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NIH K-12 LAB Challenge Winners BadgeNIH announces the first set of LAB Challenge winners; expect more to come!

Today we are excited to announce the first group of winners of the NIH K–12 Lessons About Bioscience (LAB) Challenge. Yes, you read that right. This is the first batch of winners, so don't panic if you don't see your name yet. We received so many great, prize-winning entries that we’re announcing the winners in phases. You could be a winner in the next batch, to be announced April 1st.

You may wonder if the first batch of winners is somehow better than the next one. The answer is no, not at all. It’s just that these were the first ones we processed and identified as winners.

These 28 winning entries are from 60 individual participants. Our youngest participant was 6 years old, and we had a submission from a team that included a Vanderbilt University student, a faculty member, and an emeritus professor. Of the winning procedures, 12 targeted elementary grades and 16 were for middle and high school. It was a nice surprise to see that at least 12 of the winners were original creations, and another 12 were modified from existing sources. Winners come from across the United States, including California, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

All of the winners (no matter from which batch) and their experiment procedures will be compiled into a publication that will be free to everyone. This publication will also be published in phases, as each procedure is processed and edited for style and format. We will keep you posted on when they become available, and you can check our Web site for this and other updates any time.

Congratulations to our winners (so far)! Please stay tuned for news of more winners.

About the Challenge

The challenge—developed by the trans-NIH Science Education Resources Group (SERG) and published on the Web site—was a national call-to-action asking individuals, groups, organizations, and scientists to submit procedures for engaging, hands-on health and life science experiments for grades K–12. Submission guidelines required that the activities should: (1) be geared toward grades K–12; (2) use safe, easily available, and inexpensive materials; (3) take 90 minutes (or less) of in-class time; (4) have at least one clear learning objective; and (5) be related to the NIH mission. Submissions were accepted from June 1 to December 15, 2011, and a panel of educators and NIH scientists are selecting the top entries. The winners receive an electronic NIH K-12 LAB Challenge Winner’s badge and will be listed with their experimental procedures in a final free publication.
By: Debbie | February 21 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science History

Ruth Kirschstein, M.D., at microscopeThis free new E-book details the life of Ruth Kirschstein, M.D., who provided leadership and direction to the National Institutes of Health through much of the second half of the 20th century. Author Alison Davis provides insight into the life of a brilliant scientist who had a positive impact on public policy, public health, and the training of several generations of biomedical researchers.

Ruth Kirscstein was the daughter of immigrant parents who weathered the disgraceful prejudice and stereotyping of women and Jews, which would have prevented her professional contributions if not for her perseverance and hard work. She went on to become a key player in the development of a safe and effective polio vaccine, the first woman director of a major institute at the NIH, and a champion of the importance of basic biomedical research and training programs that provided opportunity to all talented students, especially underrepresented minority students.

You can download this free E-book as a PDF or formats for Kindle, Nook, or IPad.

For timely updates about science education, STEM, NIH research, and health and medical science, you can follow the NIH Office of Science Education through multiple channels:
By: Cynthia | January 26 2012 | Category: NIH Resources, Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

NIH LAB Challenge LogoThe Office of Science Education begins to review submissions to the NIH LAB Challenge

When we issued the NIH Lessons About Bioscience Challenge, we had no idea how many submissions we’d get. After all, it was our first online challenge and the first of its kind at the new site. We wondered whether it was too broad, or too narrow. Were our instructions clear? Would submitters understand that we wanted an experimental procedure rather than a write-up of a completed research project? It looks like we did a pretty good job, because most entries were right on target.

We received more than 100 submissions from 20 states and Puerto Rico by the December 15 deadline. People heard about the challenge mainly through word of mouth and email listservs, and some cited Twitter and as their source. The experiments cover a wide range of topics, from osmosis in chicken eggs to dragon genetics, and they target all grade levels.

Right now, we’re using a rubric to check that each submission meets our basic requirements. The ones that do will move on to the next phase. Some will be tested, and others will be reviewed by teachers and scientists before we announce the winners in March.

We want to send a hearty thank you to our several hundred submitters (most entries were by more than one person). We appreciate your efforts to help us bring the best science experiments to classrooms across the country. Stay tuned for updates!

The Numbers

Number of submissions: 108

How submitters heard about the challenge:, 10; Twitter, 5; word of mouth, 33; other, 60
Geographic origin: Texas ,39; Maryland, 26; California, 6; Maine, 4; Colorado, 3; Iowa, 3; North Dakota, 3; Massachusetts, 2; Missouri, 2; Ohio, 2; Pennsylvania, 2; Tennessee, 2; Virginia, 2; and Puerto Rico, 2; and 1 each from Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington (105 entries identified their state)
Targeted grade level of experiment: elementary grades K to 5, 42 (45%), middle school grades 5 to 8, 26 (28%), middle and high school grades 7 to 12, 13 (14%), and high school grades 9 to 12, 13 (14%)
By: Debbie | September 16 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Research & Technology, Tidbits for Teachers

Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities Image of StudentsThe National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the largest Institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is seeking students with a passion to improve global health in the 21st century through a research career in allergy, immunology, or infectious diseases.

NIAID is looking for applicants for its Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities (INRO) program, which provides an invaluable opportunity for students with strong academic standing who are from populations underrepresented in biomedical research.

Candidates who are college-level seniors, medical school students, or doctoral candidates, and from a population underrepresented in the biomedical sciences are eligible.

During the 4-day program, students will hear lectures from world-renowned scientists and interview for potential research training positions at the Institute’s Maryland and Montana laboratories. This year’s program marks 10 years of INRO and takes place in Bethesda, MD, on the NIH campus, February 6–9, 2012. Students’ expenses for travel, hotel accommodations, and meals will be paid.

You can help us find the best and brightest applicants for INRO 2011 by doing the following:

    Add a link to the INRO program from your Web site.
    Print the program flyer and post it on a bulletin board.
Applications will be accepted from through October 15, 2011. Interested students can apply online through the program’s Web site.

Read success stories from previous INRO participants!
By: Debbie | May 24 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NHGRI LogoThe | National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)External Web Site Policy has officially launched its Facebook page. If you're looking to get more in-depth information about genomics, run over and like them!

And while you're visiting Facebook, don't forget to visit NHGRI's National DNA DayExternal Web Site Policy page too.
By: Gloria, Margaret | April 4 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Bational Children's Mental Health Awareness Day LogoThis year’s theme is building resilience in young children who are dealing with trauma. The idea behind the Awareness Day campaign is to draw attention to the importance of good mental health for healthy development. We were surprised to find out that last year, people held Awareness Day events at more than 1,000 sites, and almost 11,000 children and youth participated in them! Visit the Awareness Day home page in the coming weeks for updates on how to
  • lead an event,
  • find one in your area, 
  • get helpful resources, and 
  • broadcast timely, useful information through Facebook, tweets, and other social media.
As part of the campaign, one agency is posting information updates online about trauma and resilience in young children. The February update is about children who’ve been exposed to five or more “significant adversities” by the time they’re three years old: three out of four of them will experience delays in cognitive, language, and/or emotional development. “With help from families, providers, and the community, young children can demonstrate resilience when dealing with trauma,” according to the post.  
The March update states, “Studies on the brain show that physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in childhood can cause permanent damage to the brain, reduce the size of parts of the brain, [and] impact the way a child’s brain copes with daily stress, and can result in enduring problems such as depression, anxiety, aggression, impulsiveness, delinquency, hyperactivity, and substance abuse.”   
On the National Institute of Mental Health Web site (NIMH), you can find a booklet for parents on how to help children cope with and identify reactions to violence and disasters. Suggestions include
  • being straightforward about the event,
  • encouraging children to express their feelings, 
  • maintaining routines, and 
  • allowing children to make some basic choices for themselves.
You can also read about results from a recent NIMH study that emphasized the importance of having supportive and functional family relationships during childhood. The researchers found that “negative experiences early in life can have long-lasting effects on physical health, in addition to the known mental health consequences.”

By: Gloria, Margaret | March 28 2011 | Category: Science Lite, Scientists in the Community, Tidbits for Teachers

Dr. Yvette Laclaustra working with patients in Haiti.March, Women’s History Month, is a time to celebrate achievements of women. This year’s theme--Our History Is Our Strength--pays tribute to the millions of women who are instrumental in creating a better world. They are the Marie Curies of today, able to excel in fields in which women were historically underrepresented. Many of these women have a connection to NIH. Some are featured in our free, award-winning Women Are Scientists video series--a partnership between the Office of Science Education and the Office of Research on Women's Health. Join us as we honor a couple of the exceptional women highlighted in these five DVDs!

In the words of a reader responding to an April 2010 SciEd blog post, the videos “add to a gathering perception that women should participate in greater numbers in fields of science. These videos also provide insights for encouraging lifelong curiosity and intellectual engagement. Many of the fundamentals in these videos apply to getting America's kids engaged in lifelong learning. For example, in the Women Are Researchers video, one interviewee discusses how having books and engaging materials around her house growing up helped her to become the researcher she is today.”

That’s Connie Noguchi, Ph.D., who advises students to “play hard.” She’s not only a researcher and the dean of the Graduate School at the NIH Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, but also a black belt in Karate and mother of two. Connie says that developing skills in one activity or sport, rather than dabbling in many, helps her develop the kind of focus she also needs for her scientific research. To students who may want to follow in her career path, Connie says, “Learn as much basic science as you can, including taking math, chemistry, physics, and biology classes. Develop your reading and writing skills so that you will be able to communicate with other scientists and learn about what has been done before.”

In her professional life, Connie gave back for many years by hosting teacher interns in her lab at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She shared research experiences that could be transmitted back to classrooms. Connie’s current passion is finding the best ways to treat sickle cell anemia.

The Women Are Surgeons video highlights women such as Yvette Laclaustra, a trauma surgeon, breast surgeon, wife, and mother of three. “There is nothing more honorable and spiritually rewarding than being a surgeon,” says Laclaustra, whose goal is to alleviate human suffering. She was on a volunteer team that did more than 100 surgeries and procedures in Honduras in 2004 through 2006 for the Light of the World Surgical Mission. She also spent five days in Haiti in 2010 doing hernia repairs, wound care, and mastectomies.

Born and educated in Puerto Rico, she is now on staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and has a private practice in general surgery. She serves on the Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure Leadership T eam. Yvette uses her considerable talents to pave the way for women and minorities to follow their career paths with a little greater ease.

Read more about Yvette and other women who have changed the face of medicine at the National Library of Medicine online exhibition

For information on student internships and opportunities at NIH, visit the OSE Website.
By: Gloria, Margaret | March 17 2011 | Category: Science Lite, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

Fist coming out of a computer monitorThe President and the First Lady opened the summit with a video about bullying and the growing movement to make our communities places where young people can thrive. The President explained that the goal of the conference was to “dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up.”

The President says bullying is harmful and that it “doesn’t even end at the school bell -- it can follow our children from the hallways to their cell phones to their computer screens.” He asks people to join the stop-bullying campaign by visiting

With computers and cell phones, cyberbullies may circulate aggressive messages far and wide, sometimes anonymously. Internet technology is increasingly in the hands of today’s youth, which has many benefits but also downsides with potentially far-reaching consequences. Tragically, the number of reports in the news of student suicides following incidents of cyberbullying is growing.

A recent NIH study notes that today’s children can’t always see who is bullying them, and this may be tougher to handle than traditional bullying. In fact, one of the study’s most notable findings was that cyberbully victims had higher depression scores over a 30-day period than did either the cyberbullies or the cyberbullies who are also victims.

The NIH study, based on a survey of students in grades 6 to 10, shows how prevalent cyberbullying is and the high rate of depression among victims. Cyber victims may not see or even be able to identify their harasser and may feel more vulnerable, isolated, and dehumanized at the time of attack than victims of traditional bullying, the study authors wrote in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Being bullied affects scholastic achievement, development of social skills, and general feelings of wellbeing, says Dr. Iannotti, the study’s senior author. Boys are more likely to be cyberbullies, and girls are more likely to be cyber victims. In an earlier study, the researchers noted that students were less likely to bully or to be victimized if they felt they had strong parental support.

The CDC reports that electronic aggression may peak around the end of middle school to the beginning of high school, and instant messaging appears to be the most common form of communication for cyberbullies. Victims of electronic aggression are significantly more likely than those who have not been victimized to use alcohol and other drugs, receive school detention or suspension, skip school, or experience in-person bullying.

These findings underscore the need to monitor and treat cyberbullying victims. First Lady Michelle Obama recently shared on the Today Show that she does not allow her children to participate on Facebook and is not a fan of young children using it. In fact, Facebook is restricted by law to users who are at least 13 years old.

The good news is that there’s a growing number of resources to help educators, parents, and students deal with cyberbullying.

Check out these Federal sites:

Here are some other good resources:

By: Cindy, Gloria | February 25 2011 | Category: NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers

It all started at my son’s wedding as I watched one of his groomsmen swaying at the altar, attempting to stay upright. As soon as the ceremony was over, we found him stretched out on a bench in the lobby. What followed was months of recovery, neurological tests, and consultations. He finally got the diagnosis: Parsonage-Turner syndrome, a rare disease of a group of nerves that runs from the spine through the neck and into the arm.

On Monday, February 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will celebrate Rare Disease Day. The celebration will be on the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Attendance is free and open to the public. It’s one of the many ways NIH draws attention to our country’s 7,000 rare diseases. If fewer than 200,000 people in the U.S. have a disease, we consider it rare. About 80 percent of the rare diseases are genetic, and about half of them affect children.  By raising awareness about these diseases, NIH shines a bright light on these often mysterious and underdiagnosed disorders.

The NIH Offices of Science Education and Rare Diseases Research are looking forward to the summer release of a new curriculum supplement for grades 6 - 8 that explores scientific inquiry through the study of rare diseases. Stay tuned for an announcement of its release in coming months!  

For more information:

Rare Disease Day at NIH

Rare Disease Day all over the world
By: Gina | September 4 2009 | Category: Research & Technology

NASA Hyperbaric ChamberWhen we’re healthy, there’s plenty of oxygen in the air to keep us happy and active (unless, of course, we’re at the top of Mount Everest). But after some injuries, a boost of oxygen in our tissues can be very helpful. That’s where HBOT comes in.

HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is the delivery of oxygen under high pressure. In HBOT, patients are placed in a chamber where the pressure is a few times that found at sea level. They then breathe oxygen-enriched air that’s either in the chamber or supplied through a mask. HBOT therapy is coming back into vogue in large part because we have the technology to build better and much safer chambers.  (They used to have a tendency to explode.)  HBOT chambers are being used in clinics all over the country.

The first use of HBOT was to treat scuba divers with “the bends.” The bends happens when divers surface too quickly. The high pressure underwater allows more gas to dissolve in the blood and tissues than can on land.  As divers return to the surface from below, the gas comes out of solution. When divers surface slowly, the gas is released gradually, but if they come up too quickly, it’s released suddenly, sort of like what happens when we open a can of soda pop. Air bubbles form in tissues, which is painful and sometimes even deadly. So, divers with the bends are usually rushed to hyperbaric chambers, where their blood and tissues can reabsorb the gas temporarily. The pressure in the chamber is then decreased gradually, just like it is when divers surface slowly.

OK, but what does this have to do with healing? Well, many wounds — especially in people with diabetes and skin grafts — don’t have a good blood supply. That means the tissue lacks oxygen, and oxygen is needed for good healing. One way to increase tissue oxygen is to send patients scuba diving, but I’m not sure my grandmother with diabetes would be keen on that. Instead, doctors use HBOT. Patients hang out in an HBOT chamber for a few hours at a time to get extra oxygen into their tissues to help their wounds heal. 

There are numerous other clinical indications for HBOT therapy External Web Site Policy that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. A number of clinical trials looking at HBOT use for traumatic brain injury, diabetic ulcers, and burns are now underway.
By: Cynthia | August 25 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Scientists in the Community

Happy StudentsFor students interested in a health or medical science career, early planning is critical. Taking the appropriate courses in high school, in addition to academic achievement, can make or break college entrance into the program of choice.

To help students get a head start, the NIH Office of Science Education (OSE) developed SciLife, which offers high school students and their parents a series of practical workshops on college planning and career exploration in the health and medical sciences. The OSE program is modeled after the highly successful Biomedical Science Careers Program, founded in 1991 by Joan Reede, Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership, Harvard Medical School.

OSE uses customer survey data to further enhance the SciLife event each year. The surveys reveal that the top three interests of students and their parents are: college planning, choosing a career, and financing an education. In addition, they wish for more in depth information on specific careers, and guidance on topics such as balancing life, handling stress, test taking strategies, and internet safety. OSE partners with area Federal and industry leaders in these specialties to provide this information and enrich the program.

Now in its fourth year, SciLife offers an extra Spring workshop in addition to the annual Fall program. In answer to student requests, the Spring workshop will provide in depth guidance on choosing a career. Online registration for the Fall and Spring programs opened August 24 for students and their parents in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
By: Bonnie | August 14 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


New and innovative kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum units – Diabetes-based Education for Tribal Schools (DETS):  Health is Life in Balance – are now available for schools across the country! The curricula results from a unique collaboration of eight tribal colleges and universities with funding by the National Institutes of Health, the Indian Health Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The curricula integrates science and Native American traditions to educate students about science, diabetes and its risk factors, and the importance of nutrition and physical activity for maintaining a healthy balanced life. Their inquiry-based approach builds research skills in observation, measurement, prediction, experimentation, and communication. They incorporate healthy lifestyle messages and engaging science activities for all students. Each unit is aligned with national science, health, and social studies education standards making it easier to incorporate into an established curriculum. 

The units were designed and extensively tested by staff from the eight tribal colleges and universities, who worked with 63 teachers and 1,500 students in schools across 14 states from Alaska to Florida. Both American Indian and Alaska Native and non-American Indian and Alaska Native teachers and students participated.

Curriculum evaluations revealed:

  • Pre-to-post student achievement gains at all three grade-level bands (elementary, middle, and high school)
  • Teachers found that the curriculum was easy to use, more engaging than similar curricula, and had strong Native American content
  • Students thought the curriculum was "just right": not too hard but not too easy

Read more about recent professional development activities related to these units in this Salt Lake Tribune articleExternal Web Site Policy.
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