Learn about the partnership , the many valuable materials it has generated, and other online resources available from AAAS.


Why Science + Literacy for Health?      The Project's Goal      Early Initiatives  
Human Genome Project      Science + Literacy Drug Education Partnership      Project Materials  

Why Science + Literacy for Health? 

Forty-four percent of American adults function at the two lowest literacy levels (of five identified), according to The U.S. Department of Education's 1992 literacy study. Other studies estimate that 27 million Americans are functionally illiterate. 

Along with joblessness, poverty, and other ills, adults with poor literacy skills suffer from lack of information about a vital area of their lives: health care. 

The Science + Literacy for Health project attempts to address that need--to improve access to health and science information for all people. 

The Project's Goal 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science launched Science + Literacy for Health in 1992, in conjunction with Science Books & Films and with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 

The project's goal is to improve the scientific literacy of all adults by identifying and creating culturally sensitive materials for use in literacy programs and community-based adult substance abuse and mental health education programs. 

Early Initiatives 

Early initiatives resulted in two landmark publications: The Brain Book (now in its second printing) and Brain and Behavior: Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse. Both books have been popular in adult literacy programs, in drug rehabilitation programs, in homeless shelters, and in prisons. 

Human Genome Project 

In 1995, U.S. Department of Energy funding enabled AAAS to conduct a similar effort on the Human Genome Project. One of the outcomes of this project has been the 90-page book called Your Genes, Your Choices: How Genetic Research Affects You. 

Web users now can read Your Genes, Your Choices online as part of the Education & Human Resources Web site. A workbook has been published, too. See below for details.  

The Science + Literacy for Health Drug Education Partnership 

This three-year partnership conducted by the AAAS and funded by NIDA aimed to create, field test, and disseminate a drug education model program for adult developing readers. 

To develop the model, AAAS worked with scientists and adult literacy programs to create materials that convey the necessity for and value of drug abuse research to adults with below average literacy skills and their families. 

First, the project teamed scientists, literacy teachers, and literacy students at two development sites (the Academy of Hope in Washington, DC, and The Learning Bank in Baltimore, MD) to create and test materials, exercises, and activities. These were refined and collected into a draft curriculum manual. 

Second, the draft curriculum was field-tested by six literacy and adult education programs. These programs are: 

  • Common Place Family Learning Center, Peoria, IL 
  • Erie Adult Learning Center, Erie, PA 
  • Lewis & Clark Community College Adult Education Program, Godfrey, IL 
  • Onondaga Cortland Program at the Onondaga County Correctional Facility, Jamesville, NY 
  • Oshkosh Correctional Institution, Oshkosh, WI 
  • Push Literacy Action Now (Plan, Inc.), Washington, DC 
Results were published in May 1997 as Report of Findings from a Field Test of How Drugs Affect the Brain at Six Field Test Sites, by Mary C.Chobot, Ph.D. 

Finally, field test curriculum data were used to refine the curriculum, which AAAS has published as How Drugs Affect the Brain: A Tool Kit for Literacy Programs.  
AAAS is disseminating How Drugs Affect the Brain to literacy and drug education programs throughout the country. 

Project Materials 

The Brain Book: Your Brain and Your Health 
An easy-to-read 60-page introduction to the brain, at 6th grade reading level, with color photos and illustrations. Includes the basics of how the brain works, parts of the brain, and some disorders--including tumors, strokes, and Alzheimer's disease. 

Order The Brain Book online from the Education & Human Resources site. $ 14.95 

Brain and Behavior: Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse 
This 60-page book explains how the brain manages behavior; discusses mental illness, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and stress; and explains effects of different drugs on the brain. 

Order online from the Education & Human Resources site. $ 14.95 

Your Genes, Your Choices: Exploring the Issues Raised by Genetic Research: online book, published in the EHR Web site. 

Online Resources from AAAS:


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