Reviewed by Steve Canipe
Director, Science, Mathematics & Instructional Design Technology
This book's subtitle may remind veteran teachers of the "Just Say No" campaign against drug use several decades ago. How is it different than other educational programs intended to help students understand drugs and addiction? The ten lessons in this collection begin with the structure of the brain. The authors explore how neuroscience research is done and what it tells us about addiction. There is a section on use of animals for medical research, and an opportunity for students to explore the value and ethical issues involved with this approach. Students can compare the methods used in these studies such as computer simulations, cell cultures, MRI and PET scans, and genetic research.
In some areas health is a totally separate curriculum from science. Teachers boxed in by the tight and tested curriculum may ask: "Do I have time to do these 10 lessons?" If the middle school curriculum separates health objectives from science, many science teachers might hesitate, although there are links provided showing how the lessons might relate specifically to the various National Science Education Standards. The information in the book is valuable and certainly the underlying rationale to try to get students to not use drugs is germane. Particular lessons can be used without using the entire 287–page book, or used in partnership with a school's health education faculty. In particular the lessons dealing with the scientific method could be used in many different ways.
The book was also reviewed by Ruth Ruud, a teacher and principal in an area where health was incorporated into some middle school science programs. Ruud writes: "These materials include up–to–date scientific information reviewed by scientists, classroom teachers, parents, and students. National standards for middle school in science, mathematics, and English were integrated whenever possible. A 5–E Lesson Model, lesson timeline, and assessment options are included. There is a student glossary, parent, teacher, and student resources, and unit references. This reviewer feels this book can be utilized by health and/or science teachers who feel the curriculum meets the needs of the middle school students and the curriculum for the school district. The curriculum includes lessons on the workings of the brain, use of ethics in science and research, and importance of research in science."
A significant portion of the book is taken over by full–page illustrations that can be made into overhead transparencies or worksheets. The transparency pages are also available on the NSTA site so that a technology using teacher can project them onto an electronic board. The "gaming" activities may seem antiquated to tech–savvy teens. Among other supplemental materials included on the NSTA site is a Flash animation called Mouse Maze, which incorporates a quiz.
Review posted on 11/1/2012