Institute Participates in Furr's Genius Time

Date: 2/6/2018

Author: Katie Kirsch, Research Associate & Doctoral Student

The Texas A&M University Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) has had a long relaltionship with Furr High School, located in Houston, TX, for many years now. Their student organization the Green Ambassadors have assisted with citizen science efforts; including neighborhood infrastructure assessment, performing community health assessments, and engaging in environmental sampling. The IfSC was an integral facet of Furr’s successful proposal to the XQ Super School Project. Members of the IfSC, along with Furr faculty and students, will even be featured in a documentary highlighting Furr's current and future endeavors. This semester is no different as our efforts have been folded into the curriculum at the school. 

Mural created by children in the Houston neighborhood of Manchester

Building on prior engagement activities we are participating in Genius Time at Furr High School. Genius Time is a dedicated period that provides opportunities for students to explore interests that are not typically covered in a high school curriculum. Electives include traditional offerings of sporting activities and tutoring, career-oriented training in barbershop and valve and faucet repair, and special interests such as animation, rocket building, and knitting. Working with Furr teachers Juan Elizondo and David Salazar, the IfSC is coordinating a six-week series of interactive, experiential lessons focused on environmental health. In the first Genius Time lesson, students participated in a “Toxic Tour” led by Yvette Arellano of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), which provided an introduction to local environmental justice issues and communities in Houston, Texas. Additional topics will include research in environmental health, contaminant transport in environmental systems, and endocrine disruptors found in plastics. In the final Genius Time session, College and Career Pathways in Environmental Health, graduate student members of EpiAssist, a volunteer organization at Texas A&M that provides surge capacity to local health departments, will convene with Furr students to answer questions about college admissions, scholarships, and fields of study, as well as to share advice, setbacks, and experiences.
The primary aims of this course are to build upon existing partnerships, provide mentorship and guidance, and educate and engage the future leaders and stakeholders of environmental health.

Genius Time Students and Teachers in the Houston Neighborhood of Manchester