Sixth Cohort 2019

Vaping and inhaled contaminants

One issue that is repeatedly identified as a priority topic by health teachers is vaping. Rates of vaping among high school students are skyrocketing- between 2017 and 2018 they jumped 78%. Now an estimated one in five high schoolers vape. Unfortunately, vaping is so new that the science on its health effects is still evolving quickly. Teachers are left not knowing what messages to share with their students. This is where ATHENA can help- by putting high school health teachers in touch with scientific experts so that they can co-create curriculum based on the latest science.


Three ATHENA participants test drive a game.
Test-driving an interactive game as potential curriculum.

On August 1st, 2019, 13 high school health teachers representing 10 different districts from across the state of Washington met at UW's Seattle campus to learn about the health effects of vaping and to develop curriculum that would teach the key concepts to students. The teachers were the sixth cohort in EDGE's ATHENA teacher training program.

Over the course of a day and a half, ATHENA teachers heard presentations about the latest science on vaping from EDGE Director, Dr. Terry Kavanaugh, and former director, Dr. Dave Eaton, who had recently led the National Academies Review on the Health Effects of Vaping. Teachers also heard from Norilyn de la Pena with Public Health Seattle-King County about how to help support cessation for teens who are already addicted.

In the afternoon of the first day, participants toured the inhaled contaminants lab of Dr. Joel Kauffman, incoming EDGE Director, to see the experimental set up used to test the effects of inhaled contaminants on human subjects and to hear about the ethical considerations that guide this type of research.

Afterward, teachers and EDGE staff headed to a local Mexican restaurant for happy hour and dinner to digest what they had learned and compare experiences.

All the ATHENA participants stand together in a group.
2019 ATHENA participants and EDGE staff

On the second day, teachers got to test drive some curriculum- a game with poker chips, coins and cards, and a digital escape room co-developed by EDGE staff and Family and Consumer sciences teacher, Sharon Dyches. The digital escape room was a big hit.

ATHENA participants also received a sunscreen and cancer kit developed by a previous cohort and demonstrated by Tori Marcum, an ATHENA alum.

The exercise was accompanied by a question and answer session with cancer expert, Dr. Christopher Kemp.

At the end of the workshop teachers left with a deeper understanding of the health effects of vaping, three interactive exercises to try in their classrooms, and an expanded professional network. Not a bad use of a day and a half.