The overarching goal of this program is to enhance the diversity of the environmental health research workforce by building relationships with underserved schools in the Metro Atlanta area that have historically performed poorly in the areas of science, technology, and math. These schools possess an untapped workforce capable of addressing today?s societal issues involving environmental health with the proper training and mentorship. By fostering a better understanding of environmental pollutants in a manner that addresses the challenges the communities in which these students and teachers live in, we hope to cultivate life-long learners prepared to address current and developing environmental health and safety issues. Through this transformative 8-week high school research program, we will develop well-prepared, ethical researchers committed to scientific inquiry, intensive fieldwork, and collaborative problem- solving to address environmental health challenges. Following the 4-step risk assessment process, students, teachers, and faculty mentors will work collaboratively to identify toxicants, potential hazards and risks, and environmental disparities in urban neighborhoods. Providing motivated, upper-level high school students with an 8-week intensive, research experience can be a transformative experience that could initiate a career path in environmental and public health. Within our program, students will be considered Environmental Health Scholars who engage in air and water research, test experimental hypotheses, and define potential health risks for select Atlanta communities. The comprehensive approach our program provides will develop interest in college-level study in environmental health and formulate critical thinking skills for use in academic or non-academic careers. Participating high school teachers or Teaching Fellows will be provided additional educational training in environmental health issues at Georgia State School of Public Health Center of Teaching Excellence and Learning and participate in summer research training along with the environmental health scholars.
The proposed summer program will create research educational activities centered on the four steps of risk assessment?hazard characterization, dose-response relationships, exposure assessment, and risk characterization?to assess environmental contaminants in air and water found in Atlanta neighborhoods. We will provide hands-on training for high school students and teachers in air quality monitoring, environmental sampling, and toxicological assessment of model compounds to simulate exposure of ambient particulate matter, heavy metals, and bacteria commonly found in contaminated water. The overarching goal of this proposal is to create educational activities during the summer break to enrich student learning, inspire future environmental health professionals and enhance science teaching capacity.