Animals at Center of New Health Curriculum at Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Nov. 23 (UPI) — Purdue University scientists say they’ll use a $1.3 million grant to help further students’ understanding of the role animals play in keeping people healthy.

The five-year-grant from the National Institutes of Health was awarded Professors Timothy Ratliff and Sandra Amass of Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine to create a new health science curriculum for third-, sixth- and ninth-graders; start a faculty mentor program in Indiana schools; create fitness programs centered around animals, and develop a museum exhibit focused on the links between animal and human health.

The initiative is called “Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal Contributions Towards a Healthier Citizenry.”

“Animals play a large role in keeping people healthy,” Amass said. “A lot of conditions that affect humans affect animals. For example, horses get the heaves, which is just like asthma in kids, and dogs get the same cancers that people do.”

The School of Veterinary Medicine is working with Indiana teachers to develop a curriculum focused on filling the gaps in health science education. Officials said the curriculum will be available to Indiana schools, and, eventually, to schools nationally.

“We’re really interested in introducing people to science and the impact science has on their lives,” Ratliff said. “We felt that if people learn science at an early age, they will know better its impact on their lives.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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