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1.3: Preface

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Stanford University's Middle Grades Life Science Project began in 1986 with the vision of David A. Hamburg, M.D., then President of Carnegie Corporation of New York. A new wave of science education reform was gathering momentum following the release of A Nation at Risk by the United States Department of Education and Educating Americans for the Twenty-First Century by the National Science Board. Dr. Hamburg brought together the concerns of scientists and science educators over the watered down, vocabulary-laden life science curricula that were typical of middle level science courses at that time with broader public concern over large and increasing numbers of adolescents who engaged in high-risk behaviors leading to school failure, teen pregnancy, and other health problems. Because of his leadership in developing Stanford's undergraduate Program in Human Biology and his interests as a physician and scientist in the major physiological and behavioral transitions in the lives of children, Dr. Hamburg believed that a rigorous middle grades life science curriculum focused on human biology, and where possible on the adolescent, not only would greatly improve the science taught at this level, but through its relevance would capture the interest of this age group.

Initial work on the Human Biology (HumBio) Middle Grades Life Science Curriculum brought together faculty, staff, and students from Stanford's Program in Human Biology and its School of Education with local middle and high school teachers. The curriculum development team was enriched in 1991 by twelve interdisciplinary teams of middle level teachers from diverse test site schools across the country. These teams became our most valued collaborators. The teachers attended annual two week summer institutes at Stanford between 1991 and 1994 and used the draft curriculum units in their classes between 1991 and 1995. The teachers and their students provided extensive formative evaluation data on the field-test materials, which has shaped the final student and teacher versions of the units that comprise the HumBio Curriculum. Using HumBio units as a starting point, many teams also created their own innovative, interdisciplinary materials, which they taught across the middle level curricula in their schools.

The Project's Advisory Board provided insightful advice on the development of the curriculum from the unique perspectives of the professional associations, the institutions, and the fields its members represented. We are grateful to all of those who served for periods of time during the past seven years. We also would like to express our appreciation to the education consultants from universities, the National Middle School Association, and the California State Department of Education who made presentations and worked with the teacher teams during the summer institutes at Stanford. C. Stuart Brewster served with great distinction as our adviser on publication. We are indebted to him for his keen insights and good advice.

The Project faculty, the staff, and the teachers contributed more to the development of the HumBio Curriculum than anyone could have imagined before this work began. Their expertise, determination, and dedication to improving the education of young adolescents were inspirational. Supporting the curriculum development team and the test-site teachers were wonderful groups of Stanford undergraduates from the Program in Human Biology. They helped to ensure a productive and pleasurable working environment, which was an essential part of the success of the summer institutes.

To be sure, none of this work would have been possible without funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Foundation, and most recently The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. On behalf of the entire Project team we would like to thank these foundations and the program officers who have worked with us over the years for their support. As always, the final content of this curriculum is the sole responsibility of the Stanford University Middle Grades Life Science Curriculum Project and does not necessarily reflect the views of Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Science Foundation, or The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

H. Craig Heller, Principal Investigator

Mary L. Kiely, Project Director

January, 1998. Stanford, California

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
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Apr 29, 2014
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