Success Stories

VISTA's Year in Health Sciences

Engines for Education, funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, now offers ten sections - or “rotations”- of a full-year Health Sciences curriculum. The Year in Health Sciences consists of a series of Story-Centered Curricula. Students take on the roles of professionals working in the field of health sciences, such as nutrition advisors and sports medics. They solve the kinds of problems these professionals typically solve in their day-to-day work.

"The [VISTA Curriculum] was more interesting and overall was better than the other curriculum materials we have tried. We enjoyed role-playing a real-life profession and have a better idea about what a career involving internal medicine might entail, including different aspects of internal medicine. One of us enjoyed doing the diagnosis, while another enjoyed doing the research. We each had some room to explore our individual interests as we went through the material. Although the curriculum was challenging, the material was thorough, well laid out, and FUN!"

- Team of home school participants -

"We appreciated that the curriculum integrated so many areas - science, writing, critical thinking skills, ethics, computer skills and team work. We also liked the practical nature of the writing assignments as well as the variety - from letter writing to technical writing. The step-by-step guides were extremely helpful in keeping everyone organized and enabling the kids to work fairly independently."

- Home school participants' parents -

"As I began work on VISTA, guided by the concept of a story-centered curriculum, I looked forward to seeing just what our students might succeed in doing, as reflected in the reports they would submit. It has been wonderful to see what kids¬-even very young ones¬-are capable of, given the right learning environment.

I was stunned when I read one of the early reports students had submitted. It was a beautiful job and was very nicely expressed. I wouldn’t have been surprised to be told it was produced by college students. (I spent 34 years teaching college students in institutions with high standards.) Imagine my surprise when I was told that the report had been turned in by a team consisting of two 8th-graders, a 7th-grader, and a 6th-grader! While not all the technical information was perfect, they had successfully diagnosed a patient's disease, discussed it, and written cogently about it. They had a far more meaningful learning experience than they would have had in a regular high school curriculum, they had been exposed to career opportunities, and they seemed to have enjoyed the learning process thoroughly!"

- Dr. William K. Purves -
Professor Emeritus of Biology,
Harvey Mudd College