National awareness of the need for quality drug-education curricula has grown, as has our understanding of effective ways to engage students in thinking about drugs and their impact. The result is a developing body of educational materials that encourage kids of various ages to investigate drug use from a broader neuroscience perspective.
The list below features curricula and materials developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other public and non-profit entities. Most are designed to be classroom-ready so that teachers can easily incorporate them into lesson plans.
Please also see our list of resources targeted directly at students.
NIDA, one of the federally-funded institutes making up the National Institutes of Health, offers literature, classroom tools, and multimedia materials as part of its "science-based drug abuse education" program directed at students of all grade levels. All materials are available through NIDA's website at http://backtoschool.drugabuse.gov/curricula.html.
For elementary educators, NIDA's "Brain Power: NIDA Junior Scientist Program" has five modules each for grades K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-9. These modules are intended to lay the foundation for science-based substance-abuse prevention efforts and include parent information in both English and Spanish.
For teachers of secondary students, NIDA offers several additional collections:
- "Mind over Matter" is an eight-magazine set targeted at grades 5-9 that follows a young science student ("Sara Bellum") as she investigates the effects of various drugs on the brain. The series includes a teachers' guide.
- The "Heads up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body" (grades 5-11) is a series of articles produced jointly by NIDA and Scholastic, Inc. on the consequences of drug use. Also available are teachers' editions with additional activities and resources and a wall poster titled "Drugs and the Body: It Isn't Pretty."
- For high-school students, NIDA's "The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Science of Addiction" includes a CD-ROM of activities featuring current, research-based information on various aspects of addiction. Teachers can order an additional set of PowerPoint slides on CD-ROM to provide a broad overview of the mechanisms of addiction and a general-audience CD-ROM titled "Keep Your Brain and Body Healthy" which includes interactive games related to drug abuse that are targeted at an adolescent audience.
The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol & Drug Information (http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/) is a project of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA)
of the US Department of Health and Human Services that provides a comprehensive listing of government publications on drug abuse. These are directed at various audiences, including older students. Examples of pamphlets available on the Clearinghouse's methamphetamine page include:
- "Tips for Teens: The Truth About Methamphetamine"
- "NIDA InfoFacts: Methamphetamine"
- "Meth: What's Cooking in Your Neighborhood? (from the "Myths, Facts, and Illicit Drugs: What You Should Know" series)"
The Neuroscience for Kids website from the University of Washington:
This online amalgam of brain and nervous-system information is the creation of Eric H. Chudler, Ph.D., a scientist at the University of Washington. Material addresses students of many ages, although some pages require previous neuroscience familiarity. Several of the pages address drugs of abuse, including two related to methamphetamine:
From the NIH Office of Science Education:
The National Institutes of Health publish curricular supplements at http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements incorporating health- and science-related research into lesson plans. Each supplement is designed to provide two weeks' worth of materials. For secondary students, these supplements include one on neuroscience and drugs of abuse titled "The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction."
The Society for Neuroscience, a consortium of scientists involved in brain research, promotes general-public education on scientific methods and findings. Useful publications include a 64-page introduction to the brain, "Brain Facts," and online "Brain Briefings" including coverage of addictions research and specific drugs such as Ecstasy, which may be of use to older students. SfN also puts on the annual Brain Awareness Week, designed to emphasize the public benefits of neuroscience research.