Middle school and high school educators in Nebraska and beyond will have access to an expanded number of educational modules this year from UNMC and the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Building Excellence in Academics Through STEM (uBEATS) program.
uBEATS is series of science and health science modules, designed for grades six to 12 to enhance existing curriculum and provide information on top of what students learn in the classroom. The series includes courses in cancer, genetics, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, public health, college prep and health care careers, and will expand to include modules on climate and environmental health.
The program will create 20 new modules this year, bringing the total number to 85. All uBEATS modules are free to students and educators in Nebraska and across the country.
The modules have proven popular with educators and students, said Peggy Moore, director of the UNMC Office of Interactive E-Learning.
“So far, we have 10,700 enrollments since September 2022,” Moore said. “Of course, the real goal is increased utilization of the modules, either within a classroom or independently by sixth- through 12th grade students.”
Deanna Ingram, uBEATS curriculum and education specialist, said the program has expanded, adding academic success modules, in order to provide students with well-rounded study and preparation skills for long-term academic success.”
“We also offer easy-to-use teacher guides to make integration into curriculum seamless,” Ingram said. “Each module aligns with Nebraska’s state science standards, but also the next-generation science standards.”
The uBEATS program, which grew from UNMC’s popular High School Alliance program, helps meet the growing demand of a science and pre-health/pre-medical curriculum outside the Omaha metropolitan area.
“There have been requests for additional content from users, from people who know about it, or even from our experts at UNMC,” Moore said. “For the new public health modules on climate and the environment, we have experts working on these emerging topics, and we’re working with them to use that content in uBEATS.”
Kathryn Black, a teacher at Kearney Catholic School, has been using the modules since last year.
“uBEATS is a great addition to my classroom,” she said. “When used in our problem solving seventh-grade curriculum, it allows students to take a detour from our normal routine and expose them to different areas of the medical field. uBEATS also gives support to my life science curriculum by giving students one more mode of exposure to learned concepts.”
The modules are being used beyond the state as well, Ingram said.
“The pandemic has driven interest, too,” Moore said. “Some of our top modules are on bacteria, virology and other associated topic, and the demand for public health modules also has increased.
As part of UNMC’s outreach mission, uBEATS provides educational pathways and statewide access to materials on health careers for workforce development, Moore said.
“These partnerships across the state are really important, and we are exploring how to expand them.”