Link to Website for this Unit:

In 2010, the Bronx ranked last in the New York County Health Rankings. Factors contributing to this unhealthiness included lack access to public health education and cigarette smoking. In response to these findings about our community, my students will study the science of smoking and help to educate their community about the science of smoking.

We will study the science of smoking:
  • We will study the process of cigarette addiction via nicotine receptor trimming.
  • We will study the mutagenic effects of cigarette smoking on DNA replication which can lead to disruptions in the regulation of cell division and cause cancer.

We will develop a framework for educating our local community about the science of smoking:
My plan so far is for us to work with Throgs Neck Medical Services PC‎, a clinic just down the street from my school. I have a call in to speak with someone there and will visit it this week. My hope is to either have my students develop some kind of public health intervention to target smoking at the clinic. This could be coordinating and developing a public health fair, developing posters or pamphlets about the science of smoking and its effects on our community, making a video on the science of smoking to play on loop in the waiting room at the clinic or some other student-as-educator project. I was also intrigued by Gallagher's editorial on Intergenerational, Community-Based Learning. If it proves feasible at the clinic, am interested in setting up a community-based science of smoking task force in which my student would study the science of smoking alongside other visiting members of our community. More to come on these ideas as I form this connection with the clinic and flesh out a framework for our collaboration with people there.

**In shaping my justification of this community engagement for my paper, I am eager to find data on the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness?) of educating the public about the science of addiction and disease as an anti-smoking tactic. If anyone has resources for this, please send them my way!

We will engage with Harlem DNA labs to do a hands on lab activity to see the mutagenic effects of cigarette smoking on DNA replication. I hope to work with this organization to develop a simple PCR and sequencing investigation to compare the accuracy of PCR in an uncontaminated environment versus when chemicals from cigarette smoke are added. I will be in contact with the Dolan Center this week to work on getting them interested in developing this lab with me.

Will also post articles supporting this proposed experiment soon...if you aware of supporting studies, please send them my way!!

I will be in contact with the Community and Public Health Programs department at Cornell Medical Center to try and arrange a visit for my students to a lab that studies lung cancer there and/or to bring lung cancer researchers and patients into my classroom.

Comment from Sarah Marks: This sounds like a very interesting and well thought out project. You will really be pushing your 6th graders to explore this scientific issue from a public health/education viewpoint. The project seems very integrated into the community, but I wonder whether it is as integrated into the 6th grade curriculum if that's who it's intended for. I know that it is not one of the requirements but if you logistically plan on fitting this unit/project into the year, most likely your school would want a rationale behind how it is integrated into the 6th grade curriculum.

Sarah, Thanks for your thoughtful comment! Its actually intended to fit into the living environments standards as I will (hopefully!) be teaching that to my 8th graders next year--the unit will teach homeostasis, cell division and dna replication, all covered in the living environments curriculum.