The Val Skinner Foundation, the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Rutgers School of Public Health and Discovery Education created Decoding Cancer - an interactive biology and genetics education program – to help students and their families understand the science behind cancer, enhance science literacy and support the advancement of future careers in solving the epidemic through innovative biology and genetics-focused content. Decoding Cancer facilitates meaningful discussions about cancer among high school teachers, students, and families.
The program ignites students’ natural curiosity in science by providing them with engaging ways to explore the science in the world around them. The resources from Decoding Cancer showcase authentic work being done in a multitude of biology and other related science fields. The program also teaches students how cancer develops, how to identify risk factors for cancer and allows them to investigate ways to reduce cancer risk. Through the program, students develop problem-solving and decision-making skills with real-life applications, apply their knowledge of biology, expand their understanding of genetics, and explore relationships between science and technology.
Additionally, through this program, The Val Skinner Foundation, the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Rutgers School of Public Health and Discovery Education hope to inspire a younger generation to pursue a career in these fields to fundamentally change the life circumstances of millions of people around the world.
Decoding Cancer is powered by BioCONECT (Biology of Cancer, Online Education Connecting Teens), an inquiry-based biology curriculum for high school students which was first developed in 2008 by the LIFE Center at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Public Health, in collaboration with the Val Skinner Foundation.
The program was successfully piloted in schools in New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida. BioCONECT had proven to be an incredibly effective tool in classrooms through its pilot program, and by partnering with Discovery Education, the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 classrooms, the Val Skinner Foundation has now given Decoding Cancer a much-needed national platform and extended the discussion into high school classrooms nationwide.
This co-branded partnership underscores the Skinner Foundation’s commitment to breast cancer research and awareness and education and amplifies their position as leaders in bringing much needed resources into the classroom. It also supports Discovery Education’s mission to transform teaching and learning and develop and distribute resources for educators, students and their families ---at no cost--- in traditionally underfunded areas.
Decoding Cancer facilitates meaningful discussions about cancer among high school teachers, students, and families through a powerful combination of digital resources including:
Virtual lab: This virtual lab will allow students to act as virtual physicians and technicians. Students will test tissue samples from different breast cancer patients with the goal of determining possible treatment approaches based on the results.
Decoding Cancer has so far reached more than 3.65M students across the country with its groundbreaking curriculum designed to expand students’ understanding of the science of cancer and the biological, genetic, and emotional impact on the patient and loved ones. With nearly 61,000 family toolkits, classroom lessons, and educator guides downloaded for presenting and discussing materials in the classroom, this program continues to inspire the next generation of cancer researchers.