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Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry is the most recent addition to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Curriculum Supplement Series. This series brings the latest medical science and research discoveries from NIH into the K12 classroom. NIH plays a vital role in the health of all Americans and seeks to foster interest in research, science, and medicine-related careers for future generations. The NIH Office of Science Education is dedicated to promoting scientific literacy and the knowledge and skills we need to secure a healthy future for all.

Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry gives students an opportunity to grapple with some of the most challenging and engaging medical issues that confront our society. We designed Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry to complement existing life science curricula and to be consistent with National Science Education Standards. Middle school science teachers, medical experts, education specialists, scientists, representatives from the NIH Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR), and curriculum-design experts from Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) created the activities. The collaborative development process includes geographically dispersed field tests by teachers and students.

The curriculum supplements enable teachers to facilitate learning and stimulate student interest by applying scientific concepts to real-life scenarios. Design elements emphasize key biology concepts and analytic methods, cutting-edge science content, and built-in assessment tools. Activities promote active and collaborative learning to help students develop problem-solving strategies and critical-thinking skills.

Each of our curriculum supplements comes with a complete set of printed materials for teachers, including extensive background and resource information, detailed lesson plans, and masters for student worksheets. The Web site accompanying Rare Diseases and Scientific Inquiry has interactive materials to support the lessons. The supplements are distributed for free to educators across the United States upon request. They may be copied for classroom use and educational purposes but may not be sold.

We welcome your feedback. For a complete list of curriculum supplements and ordering information, or to submit feedback, visit http://science.education.nih.gov or write to

Curriculum Supplement Series
Office of Science Education
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Blvd., Suite 3E01
Bethesda, MD 20892-7520

We appreciate the valuable contributions from the talented staff at BSCS. We are also grateful to the NIH scientists, advisors, and all other participating professionals for their work and dedication. Finally, we thank the teachers and students who participated in focus groups and field tests to ensure that these supplements are both engaging and effective. I hope you find our series a valuable addition to your classroom, and I wish you a productive school year.

Bruce A. Fuchs, Ph.D.
Office of Science Education
National Institutes of Health

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