Main Article Content
Background: Some STEM outreach programs connect students to real-world problems and challenge them to work towards solutions. Research shows one-third of children between ages 5-17 in the U.S. are overweight. Socioeconomic status, race, and parental educational attainment all influence this issue as well as living in a rural or urban area. A rural high school STEM outreach program used a social media curriculum focused on healthy lifestyles and measured impact on the health of adolescents from these backgrounds.
Methods: Health screenings and college mentors were provided to 134 adolescents from 26 counties in WV. The social media intervention lasted seven months with participants using near-peer and mentor support to achieve personal health goals set at the initial health screening. The results of pre- and post-intervention health screenings were compared for any changes in health measures by student goal and participation.
Results: BMI decreased significantly in the group of participants who selected a weight loss goal, while those choosing to improve their nutrition significantly increased healthy cholesterol levels.
Conclusions: A positive impact was seen on adolescent health outcomes through linking a high school STEM outreach program with a higher education institution to deliver STEM enrichment curriculum through social media.