Bringing Public Health Data to Washington Classrooms | by the Washington State Department of Health | Connection to public health | Nov 2021

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Students will explore how where we live can affect our health

New learning materials are coming for high school science students in Washington State! The material combines data, news articles and even poetry in all new learning modules. These new modules will allow students to see how climate change and geographic locations can impact their health.

What are the different impacts of climate change on pregnant women and their babies?

Are the impacts evenly distributed across our state?

Why are black women more at risk of climate change pregnancy complications than white women?

What actions at community and state level can reduce the harm to women and their babies?

These are just a few questions that students will consider in “Climate Change and Pregnancy”. This is one of four new science modules designed to show students the impact of science on our lives and communities by examining real local data. The new materials were made possible through a unique partnership. The people of our Washington Tracking Network (WTN) has partnered with Puget Sound Education Services District (PSESD) to develop these exciting new materials.

WTN’s mission is to make public health data more accessible to everyone, and this project brings The data directly in the classroom. The project is the first of its kind in the country!

“We are working hard to engage students in real-world data,” said Cheryl Lydon, director of the science program at PSDES. “These modules will give teachers a powerful tool to link climate change to hyper-local public health issues of interest to their students.”

Using data, news and poetry to explore health and climate

Modules show students how to analyze health and climate data and teach how to use WTN tools to find information on their own. Modules also include resources that are not typically part of science lessons: newspaper articles, poetry, and community engagement.

This diversity of approaches links the study of science and society to health and the environment. As WTN Director Jennifer Sabel says: “In our society, there is so much emphasis on our individual choices. There needs to be more emphasis on how where we live also contributes to our health. “

A local perspective

The modules are designed to increase data literacy. They show students how to find data, use real tools, and analyze the real impacts of the information they are examining. They also provide an overview of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) career of epidemiology. Epidemiology is the study of when and where disease and other health problems occur, with the goal of improving health. Students will work with the same health data that WTN epidemiologists use – and even hear some talk about their work.

We’re excited to see how the new learning material will engage science students in classrooms across the state. These documents are available free of charge to everyone via the Open educational resource communities.

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