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Projects of Interest to High School Teachers and Children

Addiction Research and Investigation for Science Educators (ARISE)

Product Developed: a one week summer program followed by a year-long program in which science teachers learned science, and pedagogical skills and developed laboratory-based lessons in neuroscience structured to reach English Learners

Goal: This project targeted teachers of English language learners in grades 7-12 to assist them in improving science achievement. English learners are students who report a primary language other than English and who have been determined to lack the clearly defined English language skills necessary to succeed in regular instruction programs. The number of English learners in the US has increased dramatically between 1970 (8.5% English Learners) and 2004 (18.5% English Learners). In California, 33% of children ages 5-17 speak Spanish as their primary language and another 8% speak languages other than English. This program targeted science teachers who lacked pedagogical strategies and materials that would assist them in teaching science to English learners. It used drug abuse and addiction as an interest approach to improve the ability of teachers to implement research-based strategies that enable English Learners to master science content. It did this through a summer training program followed by a year-long program for teachers in which they not only learned the science, but also developed lab-based lessons specifically targeted for English Learners. In addition, the teachers were partnered with researchers as they progressed through the program. This program provided culturally appropriate materials and pedagogical approaches for teaching English Learners who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Punjabi and Khmer.

Alignment with Standards: California and National Science Education Standards

Contact: Adela de la Torre, Ph.D.
University of California, Davis

Changing Brains Through Inquiry, NOT Drugs (stimulus funding)

Product Developed: a model inquiry-based neuroscience education program on the biological basis of drug abuse

Goal: This program developed, implemented, evaluated, and disseminated a model inquiry-based neuroscience education program on the biological basis of drug abuse. It resulted in the implementation of in-depth, inquiry-based curriculum materials and teacher training programs, supported by an online mentoring network, which promotes enhanced understanding and application of neuroscience and the biology of drug abuse into the secondary science curriculum. The program was based on a previous project, BrainU (Brain Science on the Move) which was developed for 5-8th grade science teachers. This highly successful program was expanded and transitioned into a permanent formal training program for secondary science educators to provide accurate neuroscience and drug abuse information to teachers and their students. The project also conducted a study of the effectiveness and impact of very short vs long professional development experiences and the efficacy of web-based vs personal follow-up support.

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards


  • 2011 Distinguished Teaching Award in Postbaccalaureate, Professional and Graduate Education for the University of Minnesota – Awarded to Janet Dubinsky, Ph.D. for the development of BrainU funded through SEDAPA and SEPA grants.

Contact: Janet Dubinsky, Ph.D.
University of Minnesota

Drugs, Drug Targets and You: Exploring the Molecular Mechanisms of Drug Abuse with Physical Models

Product Developed: Unique visual and tactile instructional tools and interactive computer-based visualization tools for teaching the molecular aspects of drug action and the science of addiction

Target Audience: High School Students and Teachers

Goal: This project developed instructional materials, including a mixture of hands-on-tactile models of proteins and cells/synapses and interactive computer-based activities that complement and extend the learning from the hands-on activities for high school students.  Several kits were developed: a Synapse Construction Kit, a Phospholipid and Membrane Transport Kit, and a Neuron Kit.  A week-long professional development experience for teachers was held as part of the project during the summers of 2014, 2015, and 2016.  The course provided not only information on the curriculum materials, but also background knowledge on neurobiology that was relevant to the courses taught by the teachers.

Contact: Timothy Herman, Ph.D.
Milwaukee School of Engineering

Drugs: Integrating High School Biology and Chemistry

Product Developed: a series of curriculum modules on drug abuse, including a set of learning objectives, an inquiry-directed student handout, a teacher's guide, a glossary, a resource list and student hands-on activities and assessment strategies.

Target Audience: high school students and their teachers

Goal: These materials are designed to help high school students integrate what they have learned in biology and chemistry using pharmacology, particularly the pharmacology of abused drug. They also include related subjects, such as public policy, psychology and social sciences. 

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards

Availability: The materials are available in paper format.

Papers and Presentations:

  • Integration of Pharmacology Topics in High School Biology and Chemistry Classes Improves Performance, Schwartz-Bloom R. & Halpin, M. (2003). Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, No. 9, 922-938.
  • The Pharmacology Education Partnership: Improving high school biology and chemistry, Schwartz-Bloom & Halpin (2004). Proceedings of the Conference on K-12 Outreach from University Science Departments.
  • Science Education: A Neuroscientists View of Translational Medicine, Schwartz-Bloom, RD (2005). Journal of Neuroscience 25:5667-5669. Online at: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/24/5667.full.pdf+html
  • Pharmacology Topics Help High School Students Learn Basic Principles of Biology and Chemistry, Halpin, MJ., et al. (2005) The Science Teacher 72:48-51.
  • Pharmacology in the High School Classroom, Kwiek, NC, et al. (2007). Science: 317:1871-1872. Online at: http://www.rise.duke.edu/download/Kwiek%20et%20al_Science_1.pdf (PDF, 877KB)
  • Teaching High School Chemistry in the Context of Pharmacology Helps Both Teachers and Students Learn. Schwartz-Bloom, et al., (2011) Journal of Chemical Education (in press).

Contact: The Pharmacology Education Partnership
Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom, Ph.D.
Duke University

Exploring Drug Abuse Through the Science of Epidemiology

Product Developed: a curriculum that is exploring drug abuse issues relevant to high school students through the science of epidemiology

Target Audience: high school students and their teachers

Goal: This grant developed a curriculum focused on teaching drug abuse within the context of epidemiology while engaging the high school students in complex questions. Teachers have recognized the value of epidemiology for empowering students to make more informed health decisions, increasing students' media literacy and their understanding of public health messages, increasing students' understanding of the basis for determining risk, improving students' mathematical and scientific literacy, and expanding students' understanding of scientific methods and developing their critical thinking skills. These coupled with the need to teach drug abuse education, opens the possibility for a new innovative curriculum that teaches drug abuse in a unique fashion.

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards

Availability: The curriculum is available on the web.

Website: http://www.montclair.edu/drugepi/

Contact: Mark Kaelin, Ph.D.
Montclair State University

Genetics of Addiction Program

Product Developed: The New Science of Addiction: Genetics and the Brain web based curriculum supplement for enhancing teacher and student understanding of the neurobiology and genetics of addiction

Target Audience: high school students and teachers

Goal: This web site is designed for use in courses such as Biology or Anatomy and Physiology, with the goal of improving knowledge about genetics and its role in addiction. In developing these materials, Dr. Stark used a novel approach to web-based educational materials, Exploragraphic Web Design, a web program that optimally utilizes the Internet as a learning environment and provides multiple levels of information, facilitating differentiated learning.

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards

Availability: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/​
http://teach.genetics.utah.edu/ - The New Science of Addiction – teacher materials


  • Science/AAAS: Science Prize for Online Resources in Education for the Learn.Genetics and Teach.Genetics websites (January 2010)


  • Stark, LA and Pompei K (2010) Making genetics easy to understand. Science, 327:538-539

Contact: Louisa Stark, Ph.D.
University of Utah

ONE-DA – Online Neuroscience Education about Drug Addiction

Product Developed: a comprehensive sustainable university level online biology course that focuses on the biology of addiction and drug abuse for high school students; professional development for high school teachers on addiction biology

Target Audience: high school students and their teachers

Goal: This project developed a comprehensive online Biology100-Biology of Addiction course for third and fourth year high school students that is taught at a college-level. The course teaches biology concepts that the students need to learn using drug addiction as the main topic. It incorporates state of the art technology and instructional practices by promoting school districts’ capacity for high quality online teaching and learning – an educational need that has been expressed by many school districts that want to align with young people’s interest in online environments. Teachers and students are connected with University of Washington faculty and current research in the neurobiology of addiction. The course is disseminated through the University of Washington in the High School program which for over 26 years has successfully brought college level courses to high schools throughout Washington State.

Contact: Susanna Cunningham, Ph.D.
University of Washington

Problem-Based Learning for Drug Abuse and Addiction Education (stimulus funding)

Product Developed: an innovative curriculum on drug abuse and addiction for high school biology courses

Goal: This project developed a curriculum on the biology of drug abuse and addiction and a professional development training model for effectively disseminating the curriculum and promoting its adoption by teachers. The curriculum is problem-based with related instructional resources to model how research-based instructional strategies can be applied to teaching the biology of drug abuse and addiction. The curriculum includes biology topics that the students must learn incorporated into a drug abuse topic. It  includes laboratory activities and computer-based resources that can easily be incorporated into a district’s existing high school science curriculum. The curriculum modules align with New York State’s Math, Science and Technology Learning Standards and with the National Science Education Standards.

Contact: Dina Markowitz, Ph.D.
University of Rochester

Science Education in Health Ed Class: Tobacco and Addiction

Product Developed: A science education-based module on tobacco products and nicotine addiction for the high school health education courses designed to increase science literacy and help students make healthy decisions

Target Audience: high school students and teachers

Goal: This project sought to increase science literacy of adolescents on the topic of tobacco use and nicotine, provide students with tools to resist the creative marketing of alternative tobacco products, and help students make appropriate decisions about (not) smoking or using other tobacco products that carry implied claims of being "safer" than regular cigarettes. A science education-based module on tobacco products and nicotine addiction was developed for use in hgh school health education classes. In addition professional development was provided to health education teachers to help them serve as learning facilitators of the science education module.

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards

Contact: Rochelle Schwartz-Bloom, Ph.D.
Duke University

Starnet - Research Experiences for Students and Teachers (Authentic Research for High School Students)

Product Developed: authentic scientific research program for high school biology teachers and their students

Target Audience: high school biology students

Goal: This grant involved students in authentic research by having them sequence a portion of a gene involved in nicotine metabolism. In addition, teachers received one week of professional development to prepare them to lead students in learning about the biology of drug abuse and how DNA sequencing contributes to our understanding of it.

Alignment with Standards: National Science Education Standards

Contact: Deborah Nickerson, Ph.D.
University of Washington

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