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August 2010

By: Debbie | August 27 2010 | Category: NIH Resources, Tidbits for Teachers

NIDA Back to School LogoStudents and teachers alike are heading back to school, so it’s a good time to instruct youngsters about the dangers of drug abuse.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers a number of science-based drug abuse education resources to help you get started:

The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction (Grades 9-12)

A teacher’s guide to lessons that include state-of-the art instructional practices about the fundamentals of neurobiology. Students will learn how drugs of abuse change the brain and that drug addiction is a treatable, chronic brain disease.

NIDA for Teens Web Site

An exhaustive set of links to drug education resources including:
  • PEERx—Information, activities, and homework assignments to help teens better understand the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse.
  • Sara Bellum Blog—Written by a team of NIDA scientists, science writers, and public health analysts. Students can connect with the latest scientific research and to help them make healthy, smart decisions.
  • Mind Over Matter Series (Grades 5-9)—Designed to encourage young people to learn about the effects of drug abuse on the body and the brain.
Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program (Grades K-9)
  • Brain Power! (Grades K-1)—The program begins with the premise that a group of children has formed a Brain Power! Club that receives missions from NIDA. Each module is built around a mission—a problem or scientific question.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 2-3) — A curriculum consisting of 6 modules that lays 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.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 4-5)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through hands-on science investigations, a videotape, and supplementary activities that are linked to other areas of the curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.
  • Brain Power! (Grades 6-9)—Students explore the processes of science and how to use these processes to learn about the brain, the nervous system, and the effects of drugs on the nervous system and the body. Through the interactive Brain Power! Challenge curriculum, students with different learning styles and strengths are given numerous opportunities to grasp the material.

Heads Up: Real News about Drugs and Your Body (Grades 6-10)

A collection of articles designed to teach students about the repercussions of drug use. These articles were published in Scholastic magazine.

Ask Dr. NIDA

Use this form to email Dr. NIDA with your questions. Dr. NIDA will write back to you with straight answers.

Real Stories

Teens who have struggled with drug addictions share their experiences.

Facts on Drugs

Get the real facts about how different drugs affect the brain and body.

Brain Games

Exercise your brain and test your knowledge of drugs and the way they affect your brain and body. You can join Sara Bellum on her quest or go head-to-head with Dr. NIDA, test your memorization skills with Pick-a-Card, or have fun with the other games on this page.
By: Gina | August 12 2010 | Category: Science History, Tidbits for Teachers

Vegetable garden at Mount Vernon  

Most people don't think of farmers as scientists, but many are. In fact George Washington used science to become a successful farmer. Our first president’s farms in Mount Vernon were outdoor laboratories for testing new farming practices.

In Virginia in Washington’s day, most farmers grew wheat and tobacco for one year each and then let the fields lie fallow for a year. After doing a lot of research on European methods and doing his own controlled experiments, Washington came up with a much more efficient seven year crop rotation. It included wheat and corn, but not tobacco because the British taxed farmers a lot for that. He added clover and grasses to his cycle to replenish the soil and provide grazing material for his livestock. 

It’s hard to imagine farming today without fertilizers, but in Washington’s time fertilizers weren’t always of good quality, were applied haphazardly, and weren't used much, anyway.  Washington worked with manure, creek mud, selected clays, plaster of Paris, and fish heads to create high-quality fertilizers and figured out the best times to apply them. He even designed a "dung repository", thought to be the first in the country. There, he mixed and aged different combinations of fertilizer ingredients for testing.

Our first president was a great innovator. He improved the efficiency of basic farming implements, including the barrel seeder and the plow but his crowning technological achievement was the invention of the 16-sided treading barn for threshing wheat.  Before he built the barn, separating grain from straw had to be done by hand, a slow and backbreaking process.  Wheat could also be "treaded out” by horses, but dirt and horse excrement became mixed in the grain, and it was inefficient because grain was tramped into the ground and ruined if it rained. With the new barn design, grain was threshed more efficiently and it could be done indoors, and (fortunately) the horses weren’t able to contribute any unwanted items to the mixture.

How important were these science experiments? In 1765, before George Washington switched from tobacco farming and adopted his new ideas, he owed money.  By the time he he died in 1799, Washington had estimated his worth at $530,000. This is more than $6 billion in today's currency.  Washington may have been the richest man in American history!

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