UAMS Gives Pre-K Teachers Novel Ways to Teach Health Science

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Teaching a room full of 4-year-olds their ABCs can be challenging but imagine how hard it would be to instruct them on the cardio-pulmonary system. Pre-kindergarten teachers from around Arkansas got some helpful tips on doing just that during a “Healthy Hearts” workshop today sponsored by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).


The “Healthy Hearts” workshops are one of a group of professional development workshops sponsored by the UAMS Partners in Health Science (PIHS) and funded by a two-year $275,000 grant from the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The goal is to equip the teachers with creative tools and approaches for teaching health science – in this instance the cardio-pulmonary system – to their 4- and 5-year old students.


Part of the training will involve experimental activities that can be transferred to the pre-K classroom, such as slamming doors to mimic the function of a heart valve closing and using four connecting rooms to demonstrate the workings of the heart’s chambers. Teachers will be given an illustrated syllabus, a stethoscope and dissectible plastic models of the heart and a blood vessel.


“It’s exciting to expand the work of the UAMS Partners in Health Science to include pre-kindergarten teachers and give them age-appropriate tools for teaching their students about the cardio-pulmonary system,” said Robert Burns, Ph.D., director of the PIHS program and a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences in the UAMS College of Medicine. “The response from pre-K teachers has been wonderful as we share the goal of seeking to foster an early interest of health science in Arkansas students.”


The series of Healthy Hearts workshops for pre-K teachers started July 1 and will continue at UAMS through 2007. Each workshop lasts about three hours and will have 20-25 teachers participating.


The Healthy Hearts curriculum was developed by Burns and Anne Lindsay, Ph.D., an associate professor in early childhood teacher education and literacy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR).


Since 1991 the PIHS program has provided more than 62,700 hours of professional development and education to 16,123 Arkansas teachers, school nurses and student participants. Teachers from nearly every county have attended a PIHS program, while students in most counties have participated in live interactive television events with PIHS faculty.


The PIHS program also can conduct the Healthy Hearts workshop for teachers and interested parents at schools or other community settings around the state. For information on planning a workshop, contact the PIHS program at 501-603-1971.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.