The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed science education materials for second- and third-grade students on the brain and the effects of drugs on the brain. The curriculum is titled Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program and consists of six modules. The goal of the curriculum is to lay the foundation for future scientific learning and substance abuse prevention efforts by providing an early elementary school-age audience with a basis of knowledge and critical thinking skills.
The following describes the six modules included in the Brain Power! program.
Ooey Gooey! Making Sense of Scientific Inquiry. The goal of the first module is to introduce students to the steps of scientific inquiry: to observe, hypothesize, experiment, and conclude.
Brains in a Box: What Your Brain Can Do. In the second module, students learn the functions of the four major parts of the brain: the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, brain stem, and limbic system.
Sending and Receiving Messages. This module builds on the previous module by introducing students to how nerve cells communicate with each other. This communication is called neurotransmission.
Medicines and Drugs: What's Helpful, What's Harmful. This module discusses the differences between medicines and drugs.
The Science Behind Smoking. The fifth modules discusses nicotine, how it changes the brain, and how those changes may result in addiction to tobacco products.
What Drugs Really Do. This module serves as a culminating activity and as an embedded assessment for the entire program.
The project consists of a video, written materials for students, a parent newsletter and a teacher's guide for each module. Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program is based on the National Science Education Standards, which encourage scientific exploration, development of hypotheses, and interactive group work and presentation. NIDA is in the process of developing materials for children in kindergarten and the first grade, as well as the fourth and fifth grades.
The Brain Power! curriculum is available through the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI).
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