Spark Student Interest in Science with SEPA-Funded Education Materials

NIGMS cares deeply about our future generations of scientists. That’s why we continue to fund educational tools that make science exciting for students with the hope of steering them toward career paths in science. These materials are available to educators for free through the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program.

SEPA funds innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM Link to external web site) and Informal Science Education (ISE Link to external web site) projects for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. By encouraging interactive partnerships between biomedical and clinical researchers and educators, schools, and other interested organizations, SEPA provides opportunities to:

  • Motivate students from underserved communities to consider careers in basic or clinical research
  • Improve community health literacy

SEPA-Funded Resources

Here are just a few SEPA-funded resources that educators can use to peak their students’ interest in science:

Charles Darwin Synthetic Interview Link to external web site (middle school through grade 9, and general public)

Still shot of a virtual Charles Darwin standing by a chalkboard that reads The Synthetic Review: Darwin and waiting for the app user to make their selection.
Credit: The Partnership in Education.

In this free interactive experience for iOS and Android devices, students learn about Charles Darwin, the naturalist, geologist, and leading contributor to the fundamental principles of evolution. Students select from a list of questions to ask a virtual Darwin and receive insight into topics that include:

  • His childhood and personal quirks
  • His adventures
  • Principles of evolution
  • Public response to his discovery

Modern-day biologists and other experts provide commentary and answer questions beyond Darwin’s 19th century knowledge. A pay version of the app includes many more questions and answers. Lesson plans and other lessons on evolution Link to external web site are also included with the apps, which were developed by The Partnership in Education at Duquesne University, along with several other SEPA-funded resources.

This Is How We “Role” Link to external web site (kindergarten through grade 5)

Cartoon images of a veterinarian and three smiling kids against a sky backdrop. Below reads the logo, This Is How We Role.
Credit: Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

This Is How We “Role” is a program with the long-term goal of diversifying the veterinarian-scientist workforce. Veterinarians and veterinary students help kids learn about all the careers in this field and how they can prevent and treat health conditions that impact both people and their animals.

The program’s interactive Healthy Animals! Healthy People! Link to external web site explores how doctors and scientists use their “superpowers” to prevent and treat various health challenges that people and their animals face. Students engage in fun activities that exercise their own superpowers. (This resource is free but requires users to set up an account.)

In addition, the program provides online picture books in both English and Spanish. This Is How We “Role” was created through a SEPA grant awarded to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Monster Heart Medic Link to external web site (elementary and middle school)

Still shot of the app's user screen, which reads Monster Heart Medic and shows a yellow monster drinking from a soda can, along with options to play a new game or to continue an ongoing game.
Credit: The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley.

Monster Heart Medic is a free app for iOS and Android devices that lets students explore the cardiovascular system and how healthy living affects it.

In this educational adventure, students must help diagnose a friendly, 3-eyed monster and assist him on his path to a healthier life. Features include:

  • Animated monster stories
  • Interactive simulators
  • Hands-on tests and arcade games
  • Discussions with health professionals

Users learn about common heart conditions, diagnostic tests, and steps people can take to get and keep their cardiovascular system healthy. This app is available in both English and Spanish.

Monster Heart Medic is part of the PlayPads project produced by the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science, in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.

Other SEPA-Funded Projects

Interested in more? Check out last year’s SEPA blog post for other projects. Also see the SEPA website.

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