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Published in Print: September 12, 1990, as $2.7-Million Grant To Support Curriculum in Human Biology

$2.7-Million Grant To Support Curriculum in Human Biology

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The National Science Foundation has awarded a $2.7-million grant to Stanford University to develop a curriculum in human biology for the middle grades that will focus on the physical, social, and psychological development of adolescent students.

Researchers in the university's undergraduate program in human biology will spend the next two years developing a curriculum that addresses adolescent development and social psychology as well as physiology, genetics, and environmental sciences.

The new curriculum will be designed to reflect the interdisciplinary approach to the teaching of the biological and behavioral sciences that has been a "uniquely successful" feature of the 20-year-old human-biology program, a spokesman for the university said.

The aim of the new curriculum, university officials said, is to stimulate an interest in science while dealing with social, behavioral, and health problems facing middle-school students.

Several national reports indicate that interest in science--generally strong at the elementary-school level--drops dramatically among middle-school students.

And a newly released report by the Committee on High-School Biology Education of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that students may develop an aversion to high-school science courses in part because they are exposed to middle-school science curricula that are "adrift'' and without a unifying purpose.

Twenty schools nationwide have been selected on the basis of demographic diversity to test the Stanford curriculum, a university spokesman said.

A special advisory board that includes representatives from the National Science Teachers Association, the National Middle Schools Association, and the American Medical Association, as well as a national sample of teachers and administrators, will oversee the curriculum's development.

Vol. 10, Issue 02, Page 5

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