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New NIDA Science Education Materials For Second and Third Graders Available Online

For Release October 2, 2002

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a new elementary school curriculum: "Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientists Program." Available online and designed for use in second-and third-grade classrooms, "Brain Power!" focuses on the biological effects of drug abuse on the body and the brain.

Dr. Glen R. Hanson, NIDA's Acting Director, says, "This curriculum for the early grades is part of NIDA's goal of making age-appropriate, science-based educational materials available to children and adolescents from the time they enter school. Research has shown that the highest-risk periods for children initiating drug use are as they move from one developmental stage to another, or when they experience important transitions in their lives. Since the first big transition for children is when they leave the security of their families and enter school, it is important to educate them about the dangers of abusing drugs."

The goal of "Brain Power!" 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 curriculum consists of six modules; each includes a video, written materials for students, a newsletter for parents, and a guide for teachers.

The Brain Power modules include:

  • Module 1: Ooey Gooey! Making Sense of Scientific Inquiry - introducing students to the steps of scientific inquiry.
  • Module 2: Brains in a Box: What Your Brain Can Do - describing to students the functions of the four major parts of the brain.
  • Module 3: Sending and Receiving Messages - introducing students to how nerve cells communicate with each other.
  • Module 4: Medicines and Drugs: What's Helpful, What's Harmful - teaching students the differences between medicines and drugs.
  • Module 5: The Science Behind Smoking - discussing nicotine, how it changes the brain, and how those changes may result in addiction to tobacco products.
  • Module 6: What Drugs Really Do - serving as a culminating activity and learning assessment for the entire program.
  • Brain Power! is based on the National Science Education Standards, which encourage scientific exploration, development of hypotheses, and interactive work and presentation. NIDA is also in the process of developing materials for children in kindergarten and the first grade, as well as those in the fourth and fifth grades.

    Brain Power! is available online from the NIDA web site at . Limited hard copies are available free of charge for second and third grade teachers. Publication # BPPACK can be ordered from DrugPubs.

    Many of these materials are downloadable from the NIDA web site,

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish by calling NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the Home page at

For more information about any item in this Release:

  • NIDA Contact: Blair Gately

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