The UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA) is working with UNO faculty, preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers, and community partners to creatively adapt service learning projects to remote learning. Service learning projects will be highlighted throughout the remote learning phase.
Students Present on National Stage
Last week, local P-12 and UNO service learning students shared their research on neurological disorders and their collaborative partnership with mentors from MSForward to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Kansas City and New York City, project partners, and family members.
To conduct this research, King Science Technology Magnet Center 8th grade students in the Health Care Academy class taught by Kristin Utterback and UNO students enrolled in the Neurobiology course taught by faculty member Bruce Chase joined forces with MSForward Gym. Since opening in 2003, MSForward has led collaborative, structured exercise for more than 500 individuals with disabilities in Omaha.
The King Science students partnered with MSForward mentors diagnosed with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. By utilizing the bio-psycho-social approach learned in their classroom, the students interviewed their MSForward mentors to identify a specific symptom or health issue to research further.
The UNO neurobiology students assisted the King Science students in their research and in the development of a physical model to explain the science behind the identified symptoms or issues. For example, one King Science student and his UNO partners created a race track model with two lanes. While one line allowed the toy car to pass smoothly, the other lane created turbulence for the car, which demonstrated the difference between healthy neurons and neurons of a multiple sclerosis patient.
The students proudly presented their research and models last week through Zoom to their project partners and families, but the virtual environment paved the way for new audience members to attend as well.
Representatives of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Kansas City and New York City listened in during the Zoom session to experience firsthand the transformative learning experienced by the students. Due to the UNO students’ research assistance and guidance, the King Science students developed a high-level understanding of their coursework, as evidenced in their prepared presentations and models.
King Science student Mathew said, “Without the service learning aspect with MSForward in Health Care Academy, I wouldn’t have been introduced and made the connections with patients with multiple sclerosis. I learned how to work with patients in order to improve the functions of their muscle groups, which enable them the ability to stay active.”
The partnership with MSForward benefitted both classrooms of students, giving them a real-world experience working with people to understand the causes and effects of their neurological disorders. Their final presentation was an opportunity to share their experience with both local and national communities.
After the presentations, MSforward Founder Daryl Kucera reflected, “This is the definition of community. Everyone was so impressed with what is being done by an organization like MSForward, a college like UNO, and students at King Science. All of the pieces were just as important as the others.”Project Partners:
- MSforward Gym
- King Science Technology Magnet Center
- UNO College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
- UNO CAS, Department of Biology
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- UNO Service Learning Academy
Without the service learning aspect with MSForward in Health Care Academy, I wouldn’t have been introduced and made the connections with patients with multiple sclerosis. I learned how to work with patients in order to improve the functions of their muscle groups, which enable them the ability to stay active.
- Mathew, King Science Student
Learn more about the UNO Service Learning Academy
The UNO Service Learning Academy (SLA) works to support UNO faculty members to develop service learning courses in collaboration with community organizations, governmental agencies, and preschool through 12th grade (P-12) teachers.
What is service learning? Service learning is a method of teaching that combines classroom instruction with meaningful, community-identified service.
Learn more about how the Service Learning Academy is responding during UNO's online and remote learning mode by visiting the UNO SLA Resource website.