NEW YORK -- As the SARS epidemic intensifies awareness about critical public health challenges, a unique competition is encouraging high school teachers to educate students about epidemiology, the basic science of public health.
The Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) program today begins its second annual teacher competition. YES is sponsored by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and administered by the College Board. With up to $180,000 in awards offered to teachers each year, the YES competition attracts some of the nation's best teachers from diverse fields of study.
Epidemiology is the science that explores patterns of disease, illness and injury within populations, with the goal of developing methods for control and prevention to improve public health. The basic skills required by epidemiology - framing the right questions, finding information and analyzing data to solve problems - are those that will help students succeed in any area of study.
"We see this competition as the Nobel Prize for teaching students how to apply the scientific method to solve all kinds of problems," said J. Michael McGinnis, M.D., RWJF senior vice president. "We want to recognize and reward teachers who bring a passion for scientific inquiry to the classroom and who transmit the excitement and relevance of epidemiology to their students."
Winning entries from the first YES teacher competition, which was held last year, included curricula addressing the transmission of HIV, the probability of diabetes occurring in certain populations, and social epidemics, such as poverty, drug abuse and illiteracy. Each year, the YES program will post winning entries on this Web site so other teachers may use the curricula to educate their students.
"Understanding the key doctrines of epidemiology requires students to look at a maze of real-life problems," said Bob Seiple, an environmental science teacher at Sycamore High School in Montgomery, Ohio, and one of last year's winners. "The study of epidemiology helps you learn how to collect and analyze quantitative data, which are critical skills for all aspects of life."
"I strongly encourage teachers to enter this exciting and unique competition," said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. "In addition to offering recognition and financial awards, the YES program provides teachers with the tools and information they need to create new learning opportunities for their students." RWJF chose the College Board to administer the YES program because of its strong connections to teachers and students through existing initiatives such as the Advanced Placement Program.
The YES teacher competition is open to individual teachers and teams of teachers. However, each entry is eligible for only one prize to be shared among all team members. Up to 18 projects will be selected as regional winners, with a $5,000 award for each. Of these, up to six projects will be selected as national winners, with each receiving an additional $15,000 award.
The deadline for entries for the YES teacher competition is Oct. 15, 2003. The registration form and further details are available here.
Later this month, YES also will launch its first student competition. Open to high school juniors and seniors, the annual competition will offer nearly half a million dollars in college scholarships, with two national winners receiving scholarships of $50,000 each.
For more information, contact Jennifer Topiel (212) 713-8052.