Fermilab LInC Online

Vital Signs: The Good Health Network


Created by:
Denise Waalen
Christine L. Voigtlander
Wildwood Elementary School
535 N. Warner Road
Mahtomedi, MN 55115


Student Pages

Index of Projects

Scenario Abstract
The focus of the Vital Signs project is to promote good health in our young people. It
is the goal of  the Vital Signs project that students everywhere will contribute to
promoting good health decisions. Through the use of telecommunications, students will
research health related topics such as good nutrition, exercise, and basic body
functions. They will analyze their research data and distribute it through the use of the
Internet. The World Wide Web will assist students in communication with experts in
health related fields. Electronic mail will be used in collaborative research effort
between communities around the world. Students will have the opportunity to conduct
health related research, discuss their findings, and present solutions for problems that
are facing and will be facing their generation.

Vital Signs is designed as a year-long study-unit for grades 2-4. Although the focus of
the project is physical science, Vital Signs will address additional curricular areas, such
as language arts, mathematics, social studies, physical education, and geography. It will
reinforce the importance of critical thinking skills in our students and will address the
needs of the information age learner.

Project Description

A general tenet of health education is that humans use need to learn and practice good
health decisions in order to have a healthy society. Health education is a process of
moving individuals toward practice of good health behaviors. Since the health-minded
thrust of the 1970s, significant shifts in perceptions of health priorities have occurred.
Dramatic increases in knowledge about general health have revealed the necessity of
applying this information to the solution of health-related problems. A global
perspective on "good health" has become pervasive.

Vital Signs: The Good Health Network involves the use of technology to teach and
support health education. Through the use of telecommunications students will focus on
moving toward good health practice. The project’s "healthy" emphasis will be on
knowledge and practice. A healthy society is "one that satisfies its needs without
diminishing the prospects for future generations."  Students will research and learn
about the most pressing global problems of diet and exercise. Students will link with
International World Wide Web servers to find information that addresses the above
stated concerns. Through the use of electronic mail, students will collaborate with other
students to discuss their research and design ways for developing a "healthy" society.
Students will respond to questions of "How can we make good choices in diet and
exercise? Why will we need to consider healthy living? Who will be affected by our
healthful living decisions?

Vital Signs will prepare our students for the information age of which they live.
Through the use of high-tech tools, students will deal with vast amounts of information.
They will respond through the development of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking
includes four elements needed by students today. These include (1) content knowledge
(knowledge of the discipline, (2) procedural knowledge (knowledge of thinking skills),
(3) ability to monitor, use and control thinking skills (metacognition), and (4) an attitude
to use thinking skills and knowledge. Critical thinking skills have been identified as the
most important skill to be successful in the 21st century.

An educational basis supporting the project is its ability to incorporate other existing
curricular programs. In many cases the media teacher will work with classroom
teachers which involve creating opportunities to include health related issues as the
application of the field of study. Using this approach, we will integrate knowledge,
skills, attitudes, experience, and commitment that will result in informed decisions,
responsible behavior, and constructive actions. Health education, therefore, will include
science, math, social studies, language arts, health, and physical education. This unit
will directly link to the MN Graduation Standards in the areas of Decision Making,
Inquiry, Science, Mathematics, and Writing and Speaking.

Involvement with the local community is essential in the success of this project. Vital
Signs will link with area business (Mayo Clinic, Medtronics, Medical Graphics, and
the University of Minnesota...) to form an alliance for the promotion of health
education. These local experts will serve as a research ground for the study of the three
health areas mentioned in this project and will continue to serve as a basis for future
health projects.

The technology used in this project will play a key role in the implementation of this
project. Networked computers will be used  to conduct research to improve the way
in which we live. This technology will allow students to connect to the school district’s
Internet service and gain immediate access to health experts. Students will use their
research and other electronic files they develop and present them on the Project Vital
Signs WWW server. The Project Vital Signs homepage will be available to all students
and will link health research to one another. Optical technology will further enrich these
health studies.

The emphasis of this project is that of science, technology, and society. In this
emphasis, the purpose of school health sciences is to create citizens who understand
their responsibility for their health in ways that will enable them to participate
intelligently in critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making about how science
and technology are used to promote healthy communities. The curriculum is human,
society, and health focused, problem centered and responsive in local issues. Problems
to be investigated are selected for their relevance to student’s lives and are
multidisciplinary in nature. Because the focus is on skill development in problem solving
and decision making, it appears that process goals are emphasized over content goals.
However, the media teacher will help students see how health science and technology
can help solve problems.

A second emphasis is that students will develop a better understanding of the nature of
health education and will be more interested in being involved (actively) in "doing"
health related projects. Student investigations are the backbone on the inquiry
curriculum, and the focus of student investigations is on the use and development of
science inquiry and process skills.

The goals of Vital Signs are the following:

Teaming health education with communication technologies provides a good
mechanism for instituting change in science teaching as well as health awareness.
Because the project creates the beginning of a global health community, there is
potential for millions of people to be impacted by this project. Teachers and students
around the world will have the ability to research, contribute, and collaborate on health
related issues through the Vital Signs Network. Vital Signs should be viewed as a
gateway for new health studies to come. Through the establishment of this K-4 health
network educators will be stimulated to try new ways of approaching their curriculum.
Students will have first-hand experience using the technologies of the information age.
They will see a new method of inquire for science research and collaboration.

Much of this project will be evaluated qualitatively through the use of surveys, student
and teacher journals and group discussions.

Vital Signs Homepage


Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office, Friends of Fermilab, United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, and North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NCRTEC) which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).
Author(s): Denise Waalen and Christine L. Voigtlander
School: Wildwood Elementary School, 535 N. Warner Road, Mahtomedi, MN 55115
Created: April 20, 1998 - Updated: Maybe Never
URL: /lincon/w98/projects/yourfolder/scenario.html