New Curriculum Modules for 2013/14

As part of the NIH-funded expansion of the Science Adventure Lab program, two new curriculum modules have been developed and both are receiving high praise from students and teachers.  The new modules are called Vital Signs! Monitoring our Body’s Systems and Sense, Think, Move: Exploring Brain Functions.

In Vital Signs students learn about heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature and use authentic medical equipment to take measurements of these key indicators of health.  These activities are intended to be a fun demonstration of what healthcare professionals do and the tools they use, but also help to demystify what goes on when they visit their own physician.  Students use a wrist blood pressure cuff for measuring heart rate and blood pressure, a spirometer attached to a touch screen computer for measuring respiratory rate, and a temporal scanning thermometer to measure their temperature.

Sense, Think, Move is a neuroscience-based module that demonstrates the key role of the brain as the control center in the human body.  Students explore the three key functions of the brain – sensing, thinking or problem solving and controlling movement.  After learning about the five senses, students investigate the power of their sense of smell. In Sniff-O-Rama, students try to identify five unknown odors.  Some odors draw praise and some lead to groans and wrinkled faces, which is an important demonstration of the important information gained through smell.

Next, students learn about the ability of the brain to process the information we receive from our senses in order to think and make decisions. In Name the Brain, students visually examine five brain specimens embedded in plastic blocks and using clues, use their own brain power to try to solve the puzzle of which animal each brain came from. Students next learn about how the brain controls movement by sending signals to our muscles and how scientists can record the electrical activity of muscles using a device called an electromyograph. After sticking electrode pads on their forearms and attaching the leads, students are excited to use the electromyograph to see the electricity produced by their muscles when they squeeze their fist or move their wrist. Students come away with an appreciation of just how powerful and complex the human brain is.

The new modules are aligned with state and national academic standards, and like all of our curricula are designed to empower students with the confidence that they can be successful in science, and to encourage them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare.

More information about the modules is available at under the curriculum tab.

Posted in Fall 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Meet the New Members of the Science Adventure Lab Team

Billy Roden, Mobile Lab Scientist joined the Science Adventure Lab in early 2013 and has quickly become an integral member of the team. He earned his Bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Psychology from St. Louis University while working as a research assistant. Billy then moved to Seattle and joined Seattle Children’s Research Institute where he spent four years investigating pediatric epilepsy before joining the Science Adventure Lab. This unique partnership has given him the opportunity to combine his research background with community outreach and STEM awareness, drawing upon previous experiences as a camp counselor and math tutor.

As our new Mobile Lab Scientist, some of Billy’s responsibilities include materials and equipment preparation for our school visits, serving as a lead instructor on the Science Adventure Lab, and developing curriculum such as our new neuroscience module. He also went through Commercial Driver School and obtained his CDL, trucker hat and vest not included, so that he can drive our 45’ mobile lab all around the state!

Billy is passionate about exploring the possibilities of science with students while providing them an intellectually and emotionally supportive environment that promotes critical and creative thinking. He has a lighthearted personality and often provides comic relief onboard the Science Adventure Lab.  He has been known to make nose clips magically appear from a student’s ear and to transform into the Incredible Hulk to demonstrate muscle contractions.


Julie Ho, Program Coordinator joined the Science Adventure Lab in July. She attended the Evergreen State College where she enjoyed studying a wide-range of subjects and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. The first two years of her undergraduate studies, Julie focused her efforts on the natural sciences, with an emphasis in biochemistry. Her interests evolved from biochemistry to theoretical physics, and then during the latter years of her studies, she moved towards the social sciences where she took particular interest in sociology and women’s studies.

In addition to her science background, Julie also brings many years of administrative experience to the program. Prior to joining the Science Adventure Lab, Julie was a member of the administrative team at the Seattle Children’s Emergency Department and served as Clinic Administrator at a local women’s clinic for several years.

Julie is so ecstatic to be a new member of the team. Although her role requires her to operate primarily from the Research Institute, she values and takes such pleasure in each opportunity she has to visit the schools aboard the Science Adventure Lab.

Posted in Fall 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) 2013 Progress Report

In January 2013 we were the proud recipients of a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) that allowed us to expand the Science Adventure Lab (SAL) experience for 4th graders in six participating schools to include a new curriculum module, “Vital Signs: Monitoring our Body’s Functions”, and two structured, family-based activities to encourage and support student learning and interest in science careers. Families and teachers were invited to attend a Family Science Night onboard the SAL at their schools and a Field Trip to Seattle Children’s Research Institute where families and teachers had the opportunity to interact with scientists alongside their students and see the real world possibilities of a future career in science. Throughout the study student content knowledge and interest in science careers was assessed in order to determine whether family activities amplified the gains in knowledge from the SAL visit, and increased awareness and interest in science and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Overall we are very pleased with the results.

Prior to the SAL visit, 4th grade students at the six participating schools took a Pre-test (PRE) to establish what they already knew about vital signs and their interest and knowledge of science careers. Students then responded to the same content questions while onboard the Science Adventure Lab (SAL), after their Science Adventure Lab visit and prior to the Family Science Night (Post), as well as after the Field Trip (Post-post).

The overall results from 282 students (Figure 1) demonstrates that the number of students who were able to correctly answer content questions increased after being onboard the SAL and importantly, that those knowledge gains were maintained throughout the duration of the study. In addition, students’ interest in science and science careers increased as a result of participating in the various activities (Figure 2). An online survey was used to gather feedback from parents and teachers of participating 4th graders to determine whether the family activities helped to increase their understanding of the importance of science in their student’s life and thus allow them to encourage and support science learning.

Parents and teachers reported feeling more confident discussing science and/or STEM careers with their student after attending the family events, and parents reported that their child is making science connections to health that he/she didn’t make before the events.

We are thrilled that this school year we are able to continue the SEPA project with 10 schools (5 new and 5 continuing from last year). Thanks to a generous donation from Microsoft, students now complete their Pre and Post-tests on tablet computers. This makes it much more fun for the students, and allows us to be more efficient with our data collection. In addition, we have added a second new curriculum module, “Sense, Think, Move: Exploring Brain Functions”.

To learn more about the SEPA project, please visit

Posted in Fall 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Thank You to our Sponsors

The Science Adventure Lab program would not be possible without the visionary support of our sponsors. Recently, we received a generous gift of Surface RT tablet computers from Microsoft as part of the Surface for Education program. The tablets are being used for collecting assessment data from students participating the NIH-funded SEPA research project and are being incorporated into our curriculum modules. This gift allows us to collect key data while exposing the students to the latest technology. All grade four teachers participating the in the SEPA project also receive a Surface RT tablet to use for the duration of the school year.

We thank all of our sponsors for helping us enhance science and health education in schools and communities throughout Washington.


Posted in Fall 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Applications for the 2013/14 School Year Available Monday, March 4th

Applications for Science Adventure Lab visits in the 2013/14 school year will be available to principals and teachers on Monday, March 4th. 

Email to request an application or visit for more information.

Posted in Winter 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Science Adventure Lab Expands with $1.1 Million NIH SEPA Award!

Over the past three years, more than 23,000 students at 135 schools in Washington State have participated in the Science Adventure Lab (SAL) program. We are thrilled with the numbers of students we have been able to provide hands-on laboratory experiences for in such a short time. Even more exciting is its impact; students who participate in the SAL program report an increase in excitement about science and more enthusiasm about the possibility of a career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields.

In order to further enhance science education for students, we have also held informal Family Science   Nights (FSN) at a small number of elementary and middle schools throughout the state. FSNs provide an opportunity to increase science knowledge among family members so they are better able to foster their child’s interest in science. Feedback from participating teachers and families has been uniformly positive and each event was well attended by families, often exceeding our expectations.

Now, thanks to a $1.1 million five-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA), the SAL program will be able to expand to include two new curriculum modules, and add two structured, family-based activities that will encourage and support student learning and interest in science careers. Families will be invited to attend a FSN onboard the SAL at the school, and a Field Trip to Seattle Children’s Research Institute where families will have the opportunity to interact with scientists and see the real world possibilities of a future career in science. In addition this project will provide professional development for participating teachers to increase their knowledge of the topics addressed in the curriculum modules, so they can incorporate this knowledge and skills into their classroom practices. It is our hope that by adding these structured activities for families we’ll be able to augment the gains that we already see from the SAL program.

To learn more about this exciting new project please visit


Posted in Winter 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Thank You, Science Adventure Lab!

Posted in Winter 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Meet the New Members of the Science Adventure Lab Team

Dr. Becky Howsmon, Senior Scientist joined the Science Adventure Lab team in 2012 and has quickly become an invaluable instructor. Becky received her Bachelor’s Degree in biology from Seattle Central Community College and the University of Washington, and then spent two years working at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before moving to Berkeley, California for graduate school. She received her Ph.D. in Infectious Diseases and Immunity from the University of California at Berkeley, before returning to Seattle to continue her research at our very own Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

In addition to Becky’s science research background, she also brings to the program many years of teaching experience. She has taught science classes at UC Berkeley and has been a tutor for various programs that serve underrepresented youth. For the past three years she has also lead science activities for kids attending the Arthritis Foundation’s summer KAT-FISH camp.

Becky is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for science, and loves teaching kids about how our bodies help us stay healthy.

                                                                                                                                                        John M. Daniel, Mobile Lab Scientist joined the team in September, 2012. He attended the University of Washington where he worked as a Laboratory Assistant and received his Bachelors of Science degree in Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology. Since graduation, John has worked for several years assisting children and adults in physical therapy clinics. John’s job experience also includes working at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent, where he worked with children with disabilities and developed a passion for education.

As our new Mobile Lab Scientist, John is responsible for preparing materials and equipment for our school visits and has recently begun instructing some of the classes onboard the Science Adventure Lab. He is also fluent in Spanish, which is a great resource for us due to the large number of Spanish speaking communities we visit.

John enjoys the enthusiastic responses from the kids after they have completed their science experiments onboard the Science Adventure Lab; a few of his favorites can be seen on the previous page!

David Moise, Mobile Lab Scientist/Driver also joined the team in September. His primary job is to maintain the Science Adventure Lab and to drive the lab to the schools we visit all around Washington state. He also assists students with their experiments while onboard the Science Adventure Lab.

David has a Masters Degree in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles and technology teaching degrees from Laney College and California State University, Los Angeles. His background includes many years of teaching photography and graphics technology and production at the high school and community college levels, along with several years driving buses for King County Metro.

As a new member of the team, David is thrilled to combine his love of teaching and working with people of all ages, with his experience driving large vehicles. One of David’s greatest joys is seeing the look of excitement and awe on the students’ faces when they climb aboard the Science Adventure Lab for the first time.

Posted in Winter 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Did you know that the Science Education Department also offers Food Allergy Education Presentations?

Community Health Nurse Ann Wahl RN visits schools, camps and childcare centers to give presentations on Food Allergies and training on Epinephrine Auto Injectors.  The program is funded by the Food Allergy Initiative.  

Ann recently received first prize at the National Association of School Nurse Meeting for her research poster entitled “The Evaluation of a Food Allergy and Epinephrine Auto Injector Training Program for Personnel Who Care for Children in Schools and Community Sites.” The poster highlighted the results of a 4 year study in which 4,984 individuals at 262 schools and community sites received food allergy education and epinephrine pen training. The study showed that in-person training can increase knowledge and self-confidence in preventing, recognizing and treating allergic reactions. 

To request a presentation from Nurse Wahl, email her at or call 206-884-1012.  Visit for more information.

Posted in Winter 2013 Newsletter | Leave a comment

Applications for the 2012/2013 school year are now available.

We accept applications for Science Adventure Lab visits from principals and teachers throughout the school year. Applications are reviewed by our selection committee, which meets regularly. We receive many more requests for visits than we can accommodate, so unfortunately, we are unable to visit every eligible school that applies. All applicants will be notified of the decision of the selection committee as soon as possible.

To learn more about the application process, or to request an application, please visit the Science Adventure Lab Visit Information page.

Posted in Spring 2012 Newsletter | Leave a comment