Engaging educators, learners, and the community in the promise of clinical research to improve health and wellness is the main goal of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s Project CRESST: Enhancing Clinical Research Education for Science Students and Teachers.

Project CRESST supports the instruction in health and wellness using inquiry and authentic instructional strategies that are multi-disciplinary and collaborative. The cornerstone of CRESST is a week-long summer professional development Academy for secondary science and health/physical education teachers. The summer activities are supplemented by extensive curricular materials to translate CRESST-concepts and approaches to the classroom in ways that engage students, their families, and the local community.

See what CRESST Academy Teachers are saying…

  • “My students have loved CRESST lessons….they are always wanting to do something that we learned over the summer in the Academy because the content and strategies are so powerful in educating them in a way that really reaches them.”
  • “My students absolutely love the activities; it spread through the building like wildfire. As soon they left my room, every other science class wanted to know if they were going to do the same lesson. The lessons are very engaging, students want to participate in them and investigate. “
  • “Students definitely love the CRESST activities that we have used in the classroom and if they didn't get to finish an activity, they ask are we going to finish these today or the next day?”
  • “My students loved the labs that they did in science and they also liked the fact that they were relating it to another subject… the project-based learning lets them take charge, and realize they do have a way to control a lifestyle and be healthy.”


The goals of the project are multifaceted and include the following:

  1. Establish a partnership between VCU Life Sciences Education and the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research to expand VCU’s current educational outreach programs to include clinical and translational science.
  2. Develop content-rich, inquiry-based curricular tools for teachers to introduce secondary life sciences students to the clinical research process, including protection of human subjects, using research on childhood obesity, health and wellness as a model of the process.
  3. Develop a series of take-home family involvement activities that introduce concepts of clinical research design and ethical issues and engage parents and students in discussion about clinical research.
  4. Develop and implement an innovative week-long on-campus professional development workshop for science teachers on the clinical research process and use of curricular tools developed through this program.
  5. Disseminate teacher and student-oriented materials in partnership with the National Institute of Health Science Education Partnership Award through the web and target market the program to state and national education agencies and teacher organizations.