The Academy for Teaching about Health and Environmental Associations (ATHENA) is a collaboration of health teachers from across Washington State with scientists in the University of Washington’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences to develop hands-on environmental health curriculum for high school students. ATHENA hosts summer workshops to create interactive lessons that illustrate the influences of the environment, individual genetics, and behavioral choices on personal health. Topics are chosen based on student interest. Past topics include sweeteners and sunscreen. In 2019, ATHENA will host a summer workshop to develop curriculum on the topic of vaping, e-cigarettes and the health effects of inhaled contaminants.
With support from the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (DEOHS), EDGE outreach staff hosted a workshop in the summer of 2010 that trained high school science, health, and career and technical education teachers in the core concepts of environmental and occupational health sciences. Participating teachers attended workshops to gain the necessary knowledge and skills for helping their students better understand the health risks posed by environmental hazards, including those found in the workplace. We also gave teachers the skills and resources to empower students to make individual and collective behavior changes to protect themselves and their communities from environmental hazards. By the start of the 2014-15 school year, ATHENA had worked with three distinct cohorts of educators on environmental health science. Environmental Health lessons are being taught in high schools across Washington State. In 2015, teachers from the second cohort (described below) presented their ATHENA and environmental health classroom activities at the SHAPE America National Convention and Expo for Health and Physical Educators.
The ATHENA project directly responds to the Washington state legislature’s mandate for universities to serve the community and supports the goals of the UW School of Public Health to promote population health through education and service.