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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 | September 8 2011 | Category: Issues in Education, NIH Resources, Science News, Tidbits for Teachers


High School Student with DNA ModelA new studyExternal Web Site Policy by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)External Web Site Policy, the country’s leading genetics scientific society, found that more than 85 percent of states have genetics standards that are inadequate for preparing America’s high school students for future participation in a society and health care system that are certain to be increasingly impacted by genetics-based personalized medicine.

“Science education in the United States is based on testing and accountability standards that are developed by each state,” said Michael Dougherty, PhD, director of education at ASHG and the study’s lead author. “These standards determine the curriculum, instruction, and assessment of high school level science courses in each state, and if standards are weak, then essential genetics content may not be taught.”

According to ASHG’s study, which included all 50 states and the District of Columbia:
  • Only seven states have genetics standards that were rated as ‘adequate’ for genetic literacy (Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington).
  • Of the 19 core concepts in genetics that were deemed essential by ASHG, 14 were rated as being covered inadequately by the nation as a whole (or were absent altogether).
  • Only two states, Michigan and Delaware, had more than 14 concepts (out of 19) rated as adequate. Twenty-three states had six or fewer concepts rated as adequate.
“ASHG’s findings indicate that the vast majority of U.S. students in grade 12 may be inadequately prepared to understand fundamental genetic concepts,” said Edward McCabe, MD, PhD, a pediatrician and geneticist who is the executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome at the University of Colorado. “Healthcare is moving rapidly toward personalized medicine, which is infused with genetics. Therefore, it is essential we provide America’s youth with the conceptual toolkit that is necessary to make informed healthcare decisions, and the fact that these key concepts in genetics are not being taught in many states is extremely concerning.”

“We hope the results of ASHG’s analysis help influence educators and policy makers to improve their state’s genetics standardsExternal Web Site Policy,” said Dougherty. “Alternatively, deficient states might benefit from adopting science standards from the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, which, although not perfect, does a better job of addressing genetics concepts than most state standards that are currently in place.”

The study was published in the American Society for Cell Biology's External Web Site Policy CBE–Life Sciences Education journal – for a full-text copy of the paper, please go to: http://www.lifescied.org/content/10/3/318.full

Related NIH 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: Bonnie | August 14 2009 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers


DETS Logo


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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