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Course to help K-12 teachers with gerontology curriculum (6-3-99)

Gerontology, the study of advanced age, isn't something most kids like to study. Teachers understandably find it difficult to convince children that the life choices they make today will have a profound effect on their futures.

A course offered June 7-18 by the Aging Research and Education Center (AREC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio will provide strategies, tips and creative ideas to 30 area teachers. These educators have said, "Yes. We do want to teach about aging as a part of our biology and other course units."

The "Stealth Gerontology" summer course aims to help teachers integrate gerontology instruction into their science, reading, social studies, history and other units. The course is supported by several donors and grant awards, including the National Institutes of Health's Science Partnership Award and a new $73,728 Eisenhower Professional Development Grant.

Teachers will learn about nutrition and diet, cultural differences pertaining to aging, theories of aging, intergenerational friendships, family trees, the brain, Alzheimer's disease, vision and hearing problems, the aging world, diabetes, diversity among the aged, bone development, life expectancy and more. Many activities are interactive to stimulate the teachers' creative and critical thinking processes.

"Twenty-one of the teachers are from Pat Neff Elementary, our target campus," said Linda Struski, project coordinator from the AREC. This will train them to use materials from our 'Positively Aging™' curriculum project. In 10 days they will be briefed on gerontological sciences, will gain hands-on lab experience and will test various teaching methods. Our goal is to provide them with information that will have impact on their students for linking healthy choices today to healthy older adulthood."

About 30 million Americans are 65 or older, and demographers expect that number to rise to 70 million by 2030.

Contact: Will Sansom