Margaret C. Jefferson and Mary Ann Sesma
Department of Biology and Microbiology, California State University, Los Angeles CA 90032 and Los Angeles Unified School District.
The primary objectives of this grant are to develop, implement, and distribute culturally competent, linguistically appropriate, and relevant curriculum that leads to Hispanic student and family interactions regarding the science, ethical, legal, and social issues of the Human Genome Project. By opening up channels of familial dialogue between parents and their high school students, entire families can be exposed to genetic health and educational information and opportunities. In addition, greater interaction is anticipated between students and teachers, and parents and teachers. In the Los Angeles Unified School District alone, over 65% of the approximately 850,000 student enrollment are bilingual Hispanics. The 1990 census data revealed that the U.S.A. had a total population of 248,709,873, of which 22,354,059 were Hispanics, and thus, there is a need for materials to be disseminated throughout the U.S.A. that are relevant and understandable to this population.
Student curriculum consists of BSCS HGP-ELSI curriculum available in both English and Spanish; supplemental lesson plans developed and utilized by high school teachers in predominantly Hispanic classrooms that will be available via the World Wide Web; student-developed surveys that ascertain knowledge and perceptions of genetics and HGP-ELSI in Hispanic and other ethnic communities in the greater Los Angeles area; the University of Washington High School Human Genome Program exercises on DNA synthesis and sequencing; and career ladders and opportunities in genetics. The supplemental lesson plans are focused on four major units: the Cell; Mendelian Genetics and its Extensions; Molecular Genetics; and the Human Genome Project and ELSI. The concise concepts underlying each unit are being utilized in two ways: (a) first, the student activities emphasize logical, problem-solving exercises; tools or technologies applicable to that concept; when and where appropriate, a focus on the Hispanic population; and an understanding of the problems and compassion for the families associated with learning of genetic diseases. (b) second, the concepts serve as the springboard for the topics that the students include in science newsletters to their parents. In addition to on-campus activities, we intend to arrange field trips and/or classroom demonstrations of genetic and molecular biology techniques by scientists and other experts. The speakers would also be asked to discuss career opportunities and the educational requirements needed to enter the specific careers presented.
The parent curriculum consists of two major activities. First the student-parent newsletter is designed to drawn the parents into the curriculum. Students write newsletters on a biweekly basis. Each newsletter relates to a student curriculum subunit and the specific subunit concepts. English, Spanish, social science as well as biology and chemistry teachers assist the students in its production. The other major activity that involves the parents are the parent focus groups. Parents from each participating school are invited to monthly focus groups at their specific campus. The focus groups discuss issues related to genetics and health, legal and social issues as well as science issues that stem from the student newsletters. The discussions are in both English and Spanish with translators available. Links with other programs have been established.
*Supported by a grant from the Director, Office of Energy Research, Office of Health and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy under grant # DE-FG03-94-ER61797.
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