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Vol. 12 No. 3

The Big Sky Model: A Regional Collaboration for Participatory Research on Environmental Health in the Rural West

  • Tony J. Ward
  • Diana Vanek
  • Nancy Marra
  • Andrij Holian
  • Earle Adams
  • David Jones
  • Randy Knuth
July 23, 2010


As an innovative community-based framework for science learning, the Big Sky Model is guiding high school and tribal college students from rural areas of Montana and Idaho in their understanding of chemical, physical, and environmental health concepts in the context of their own homes, schools, and communities. Students participate in classroom lessons and continue with systematic inquiry through actual field research to investigate a pressing, real-world issue: understanding the complex links between poor air quality and respiratory health outcomes. This article provides background information, outlines the procedure for implementing the model, and discusses its effectiveness as demonstrated through various evaluation tools.