Public Release: 

NIH awards $540K for innovative web-based science curricula

Rice to train 1,200 middle school teachers to use MedMyst web adventure series

Rice University

HOUSTON, Nov. 19, 2004 -- The National Institutes of Health has awarded researchers at Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning a dissemination grant of $540,000 to broaden the scope of their innovative, Web-based adventure series for middle schoolers called MedMyst. Rice will partner with the McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science in Houston, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and the University of Washington Outreach Program to ensure that the project involves teachers across the nation.

The novel design of MedMyst teaches kids science and health using interactive, episodic computer adventures. The Web-based materials also have accompanying hands-on classroom activities as well as companion magazines that reinforce the web adventures' scientific content.

In MedMyst adventures, kids play the hero in medical mystery stories set in the future. Students have to be part detective, part historian and part scientist to track down the cause of an epidemic. In the process, they learn about infectious diseases and the microbes that cause them.

Three MedMyst epsiodes and associated materials were created and field-tested by 700 students in nine schools under a 2002 grant from the NIH's National Center for Research Resources. The new follow-up grant from the NCRR's Science Education Partnership Awards program will allow CTTL researchers to train 1,200 teachers in the use of the free software and related materials.

"The teachers we train with this new grant will use MedMyst to enrich the science curriculum among 150,000 students during the two years of the grant," said Leslie Miller, senior research scholar at CTTL and the principal investigator on the NIH grant. "The new grant also provides funding to create a network of teachers who will train their colleagues and continue classroom diffusion of MedMyst even after the grant ends."


Established in 1995, CTTL is exploring ways to expand and enrich education with information technology. The center focuses on four main areas: developing Web-based curricula, integrating multimedia technology, building electronic communities and increasing participation of underrepresented minorities in information technology.

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