HiOH Presented at the American Public Health Association Virtual Annual Meeting

October 26, 2020
HiOH-FGP Partnership

In October, Health in Our Hands (HiOH) was presented as part of an oral session at the American Public Health Association Virtual Annual Meeting. Renee Bayer, principal investigator, and Bianca Alexander, program coordinator, co-presented on behalf of an international team of researchers and Flint-area community partners.

The presentation, “Bridging science education and public health research perspectives to understand the impact of a community-inspired science curriculum”, described an evaluation framework that connects science education and public health research through community partnerships. The project is guided by the HiOH-Flint/Genesee Partnership, a collaboration of community, health, and education organizations dedicated to its success. Using a CBPR approach, partners envisioned a “Community of Practice” in which HiOH is the vehicle through which students and their families, teachers, and community members interact to share their concern for the health and well-being of young people and work together to improve their lives.


Tribute to Toby Citrin

October 26, 2020
Toby Citrin attending the Health in Our Hands Health Summit in Flint, 2017

In October, we paid tribute to Toby Citrin, our public health colleague and partner in Health in Our Hands, at the American Public Health Association Virtual Annual Meeting. Toby passed away in January of this year from a chronic respiratory illness. A lawyer by training, Toby served as an adjunct professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. An articulate advocate of the need to include community members’ input in public health programs and policies, Toby was honored in this session organized by the Community-Based Public Health Caucus of APHA by his colleagues in academia and in the community. The session was attended by about 75 colleagues, family members, and dear friends.

In his honor, the Toby Citrin Memorial Fund for Youth Researchers was announced to support the attendance and participation of youth researchers in future APHA conferences. To contribute, visit the GoFundMe site:


Health in Our Hands: Learning How to Teach Science Virtually

July 13, 2020

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more and more classrooms are moving partially or completely online. The shift is creating many changes in the ways we think about learning; teachers in particular are having to adapt quickly in order to engage students virtually. The challenges of doing so were a main topic of discussion during Health in Our Hands’ professional learning workshop, which took place virtually at the end of July. 

For those who may not be familiar, Health in Our Hands (HiOH) is a project led by CREATE for STEM, in association with several other education, health and community partners from the Flint/Genesee area. Using the science curriculum developed through the HiOH project, students learn about gene-environment interactions, natural selection, and evolution. Most importantly, they learn about these concepts by applying them to important community health issues that affect their lives, such as diabetes and addiction. For their final project, students conduct an action research project to improve their school or neighborhood to help prevent or reduce diabetes and addiction. Students present the results and recommendations at a Youth Health Summit to their peers, family and community. CREATE for STEM received funding for this project from the Science Education Partnership Award, National Institute of General Medical Sciences. 

As an important part of implementing the curriculum in classrooms, the HiOH team has led professional learning (PL) workshops and seminars for participating teachers for several years. However, the workshop this summer marked the first time the PL was presented completely online. During the PL, the HiOH team led by research associate Consuelo Morales tried out many of the same virtual learning strategies with the teachers that they can use with their own classes, using technology such as Zoom and Jamboard. 

“Hosting the workshop virtually really gave us insights into the challenges teachers are dealing with right now,” says Morales. “Almost all of the districts that currently use the HiOH curriculum are teaching remotely this semester, making these discussions an essential component of the workshop.” Many of the discussions included space for teachers to ask questions and strategize together about ways to approach the HiOH curriculum and their lessons in general, learning to use technology as a tool rather than a hindrance. 

Despite the move to an online forum, the number of districts represented for the four-day workshop was even higher this summer than previous years. Teachers resoundingly said that they appreciated the opportunity to work through curriculum virtually and try out new strategies for teaching online. 

When asked what she liked best about the PL, Ashley Booker, returning 8th grade teacher from Atherton Community Schools responded, “Seeing the curriculum in action and the facilitators! I was able to see the curriculum and how it's going to be enacted. Since we will start online this fall, we will be troubleshooting as we go. So, I appreciate the follow-up Professional Learning Community sessions.”

As teachers start using the HiOH curriculum in their classes this fall, the HiOH team will continue to host bi-monthly virtual learning sessions. These will give teachers an opportunity to discuss their experiences with HiOH in class, figure out what’s working and what isn’t, and build upon their understanding of the content as they move forward through the curriculum. It’s unclear how long classrooms will have to remain remote, but with supportive virtual learning opportunities like these, the future of online learning is bright. 

HiOH is a project lead by the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University in collaboration with the Health in Our Hands-Flint/Genesee Partnership: Community Based Organization Partners of Flint, CRIM Foundation, Flint Community Schools, Atherton Community Schools, Genesee County Health Department, Genesee Intermediate School District, Genesys Health System, Greater Flint Health Coalition, Health Alliance Plan, Michigan State University (Human Medicine & Extension) and the University of Michigan-Flint (Discovering PLACE).


$1.2M NIH Grant Puts Health in the Hands of Students, Community

July 25, 2020
$1.2M NIH Grant Puts Health in the Hands of Students, Community

$1.2M NIH Grant Puts Health in the Hands of Students, Community

What controls your health?

It's a complicated question, but middle schoolers in the City of Flint and Genesee county area are able to answer that question, and more, with the Health In Our Hands project. 

Now, they will be able to inspire even more change in their community.

The project is continuing thanks to a five-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award, or NIH-SEPA.

"The kids and their teachers who have participated in this project are amazing," said Renee Bayer, a specialist at the Michigan State University CREATE for STEM Institute and principal investigator on the grant. 

Health In Our Hands, or HiOH, develops, tests and implements learning materials, blending classroom instruction and community-based learning. The goal is to give students and community members opportunities to understand, explain and apply ideas about health-related phenomena to their lives. Through these units, students investigate diabetes and addiction. 

Please click here for full article. 

Announcing: The Health in Our Hands Simulations Collection

July 2, 2019
Announcing: The Health in Our Hands Simulations Collection

For the convenience of teachers and other interested users, all of the Concord Consortium simulations related to the Health in Our Hands curriculum have been collected in one handy location on the Concord website.

This set of simulations is used in the Health in Our Hands curriculum to study how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms. Links to classroom materials are also included. The simulations can also be used independently from the curriculum to investigate gene-environment interactions in afterschool or summer settings or just for fun!

One of the simulations, How does food affect the health of sand rats?, was developed in partnership with the Concord Consortium especially for the curriculum.  Gene-environment Interaction: How does food affect the health of sand rats?