University of Arizona, Center for Toxicology Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, An NIEHS funded center at the University of Arizona


Curriculum Design
Curriculum Philosophy
Curriculum Structure
Student Outcomes
Target Audiences
Major Projects
For Students
Creators of IMPACTT
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Curriculum Philosophy
Curriculum Design


IMPACTT emphasizes process over content. The processes that are emphasized are finding answers through the scientific process, library research, on the Internet and from other people. IMPACTT lessons are selected or designed so that students develop or refine invaluable skills while they are introduced to content. Every effort is made to integrate the content areas of science, english, social studies, technology, and math in such a way that students understand the interconnectedness of these discuplines and gain insight into the way the real world works. For a deeper understanding about how these goals are accomplished please click on the links below. MENU

  Curriculum Philosophy

The IMPACTT philosophy can be summarized by six phrases: process oriented, student oriented, mastery, integration, application, and science. Curious what that means and how it all fits together? Then read on.

Process Oriented

IMPACTT emphasizes process over content. Although content is certainly addressed and state and national standards are met, it is not done at the expense of providing the students with skills that will help them for the rest of their life. Students aren't going to remember the distance between the sun and the earth 5 years from now (or even a day after they "learned it"), and why should they? But they do need to know how to find an answer and effectively communicate that answer.

Finding an answer can be as simple as knowing how to efficiently search the Internet or the library. Or, it can be as involved as conducting a survey or scientific experiment. Communicating that answer requires excellent writing, presentation, and speaking skills. The IMPACTT philosophy encourages taking the time required to help students achieve these skills instead of quickly moving on to the next topic to make sure "everything gets covered" during the school year.
IMPACTT lessons are selected or designed so that students develop or refine invaluable skills while they are introduced to content. The content changes throughout the year, but the students repeat many of the same processes over and over again until that skill is mastered. MENU

Student Oriented

The IMPACTT teaching approach is student oriented. Each student is viewed as an individual with different skills, backgrounds, and needs. The curriculum and program are designed to address individual student needs in three different ways. First, by having in-depth projects, students are typically at different stages of the project. Thus, some students are working well without help, while others need more attention. Having longer, more involved projects distributes the "student need load" and allows the teacher to work closely with individuals or small groups of students. Second, a variety of lessons and teaching methods are used. A combination of inquiry, cooperative learning, experiential learning, and individual work honors multiple learning styles. Third, when implemented as a full academy, IMPACTT students remain together all day. This allows teachers to work with the students for multiple periods on an as needed basis. For example, if the students are struggling with the math in one of the projects, the math teacher can stay and work with them until understanding is achieved. MENU


Students attain mastery level work in two ways. First, students are graded on the four point scale below.

Perfect Response 3 pts A
Minor Flaws 2 pts B
Major Gaps 1 pt I
Did Nothing 0 pts I
Work that does not meet the mastery level can be revisited by the student until mastery (A or B grade work) occurs. Students that choose not to redo or make up work will eventually receive an F. A certain amount of class time is given to the students to allow them to redo incomplete work (I). This is critical because students rely on the teacher to explicitly show them what is expected of them. For example, many students have poor writing skills. Their writing will likely not improve unless a teacher sits down with them and helps them rewrite their document. Another example where students often require guidance is interpreting data. Students typically overstate their conclusions from their data. Once a student has been shown how to improve his or her work, and given some time to redo it in class, students are eventually expected to redo "incompletes" on his or her own time (during lunch or after school if they would like assistance). The second way students attain mastery through IMPACTT is described the Process Oriented section of this page. MENU


Educational circles debate about how to define true subject integration versus teaching multiple subjects through parallel thematic units. If integration is defined in its strictest sense it means that all of the academic subjects are implemented concurrently through the exact same lesson or project and the boundaries between academic "classes" get blurred. If defined in this way, IMPACTT does achieve "true integration" much of the time. This is accomplished through completely integrated lessons, Major Projects, and the academy structure where students remain together in IMPACTT throughout the school day. IMPACTT also diverges from the strict integration definition by implementing multiple subjects through parallel thematic units. Sometimes this is a result of the design of a lesson needed to give the students skills or information necessary to complete their Major Project or to meet a State Standard. Whether "true" integration or thematic structures are used, both approaches demonstrate to students how subjects relate and connect to each other. This adds a layer of meaning for the students and partially addresses a question often asked by students, "why do I need to know this?" The other important piece to addressing that question is allowing the students use their newly learned skills and knowledge in a real-world scenario. Although this is not always possible, integration is an excellent tool to accomplish real-world application. MENU


IMPACTT tries to provide as many real-world applications as time, budgets, resources, and imaginations allow. Real-world application is primarily accomplished through the Major Projects, although it is also achieved through complementary field trips and connections with people working in a particular field. Some examples of Major Projects that have real-world application include the "Teen Tobacco & Health Conference," the "Real-time Air Quality Exercise," and the "Cancer Video Documentary." MENU


IMPACTT is a fully integrated program that emphasizes science, math, and technology through the context of traditional academic subjects and broad umbrella themes. IMPACTT strives to break the compartmentalized, often sterile and uninteresting paradigm of "worksheet-based, fill-in-the-blank" science teaching. IMPACTT is a fully integrated program that promotes the vigorous development of critical thinking and science literacy.

Even though IMPACTT is primarily a science, math and technology program, it provides students with information, coursework and skills that will be invaluable in their future pursuits, be it college or direct employment. It can not be overstated that a scientifically informed, critically thinking population is also a literate population. Students completing the IMPACTT program will be able to interpret statistical information (like that conveyed to them through the media), and evaluate its merit and application. The students will be able to ask critical and informed questions, and retrieve information before they take action, whether it be a simple task such as planting a shrub or a complex international diplomatic encounter. MENU


IMPACTT   || COEP ||  SWEHSC   ||  Center for Toxicology  ||  University of Arizona  ||  TOP
Stefani Hines, Director: 520-626-3692
Marti Lindsey, Asst. Specialist: 520-626-7659

mailing address:
Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Room 244
PO Box 210207, Tucson, AZ, USA  85721-0207


NIEHS Center Program
The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center
is funded by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update:  September 18, 2002

Page Content:  Marti Lindsey
Web Master:  Mike Kopplin