Engineering Our Health

STEM Education & Health/Wellness as One

Why This and Why Now?

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, and the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006 and many others indicate that students (particularly in poor communities) are at high-risk for obesity, teen pregnancy, drug and/or alcohol use, and fighting. And students in all neighborhoods need access to a better health education, healthier school and home environments and more physical activity. The findings conclude that participating in a sedentary lifestyle will impact academic performance.

Parallel to this, is a national education system that is failing to meet the needs of today's students and prepare them for a 21st century workforce. Researchers, academia, and professionals attest that there is a lack of high quality workers prepared and skilled to compete in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and students in many public school systems are not engaged in the type of teaching and learning they need to compete nationally nor globally.

As leaders from education, health, policy, business, industry and research become increasingly aware of these challenges and continue to identify possible solutions it is clear that it must be done within a multidisciplinary context. A single lens of focus cannot address the immediate urgency of these issues in order to effectively disrupt the current system. Instead, strategic partnerships that leverage each others strengths and current program offerings must be constructed in order to impact youth and community behaviors.

The Engineering Our Health, model is purposed to do just that. With the support of local and national partners, it fuses Coordinated School Health and STEM Education in a such a way that it catapults students understanding of the world, enhances their ability to make important and informed decisions, and uses personal and public health issues to engage students in inquiry- and project-based learning... developing today's students into tomorrow's industry and workforce leaders.
Engineering Our Health is designed to:

  • Be a national model with local flexibility implemented at the school level
  • Be a comprehensive approach demonstrated through a coordinated range of programs, products, media, events and technology
  • Embed research-based practices in STEM education

Transdisciplinary: An education process that addresses the whole student, subjects intersect to explore a common theme and students synthesize the knowledge through inquiry and application.

  • Learning to know: establishing bridges between, across and beyond all disciplines to gain understanding of the present world. Students are able to adapt to the changing demands of professional life Learning to do: acquiring several competencies and creating a flexible interior core that provides access to multiple professions. Bringing to light the creative potentials of each student.
  • Learning to live together with: better understanding our own culture, defend our national interests, respect our own religious and political convictions, and
  • Learning to be: to continually question, discovering our conditioning, harmony or disharmony between individual and social life, testing the foundations of our convictions

Health and Wellness Capstone Project:

  • Students are presented with the top 10 health indicators listed in the Healthy People 2010 report from the U.S. Surgeon General's Report through documentaries, health and wellness professionals, and personal health habit tracking.
  • Students select a health topic from the list to study and research. Students will evaluate their own environments and communities to explore how the reality of a healthy lifestyle juxtaposed with the ideal factors needed to create that healthy lifestyle.
  • Students create physical regimens that can be implemented in their own communities. In the case of MC2STEM, students began small, by incorporating wii fit into the school day and taking Tai Chi during lunch. That blossomed into a partnership with CASE where students participated in a national youth sports program. Based on their findings students create a statistical tool to collect data for a health and wellness index that displays data and calculates summary statistics. Students create health indicator cards to share throughout their communities, including other schools, local colleges, businesses, and other community organizations.
  • Students explain their understanding of biochemical pathways related to the 10 health indicators by creating animated pathways using Scratch. Students explain how certain diseases associated with the 10 health indicators are inherited at the molecular level and demonstrate how to identify certain indicators of these diseases.
  • Students manage the development of the wellness indicies and systems using the engineering problem-solving and design process.
  • Students learn to communicate in Mandarin and design a brochure about Health and Wellness in China, including an introduction to one of the eight Chinese cuisines, martial arts, and Tai-Chi research. Students engage in the art of Tai-Chi weekly.
  • The social implications of Health and Wellness are addressed by interpreting how a country can be considered well through its legislation, societal conditions, and development of all its citizens.

More Information About Engineering Our Health:

Engineering Our Health (PDF 9.0MB)

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