ECU Hosts Workshop for Teachers to Relay Dangers of Substance Dependencies

 

Teachers from five local counties learn a drug dependency exercise to take back to their classrooms during a Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership workshop at ECU June 21.

Teachers from five local counties learn a drug dependency exercise to take back to their classrooms during a Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership workshop at ECU on June 21.

The East Carolina University Science Education Against Drug Abuse Partnership (SEADAP) hosted its fourth annual three-day workshop on June 19-21 for a group of local teachers in grades 6-12. During the workshop, teachers learn hands-on activities that will help relay the dangers of drug dependencies to their students.

The workshop was co-created by Dr. Rhea Miles from ECU, and Dr. Scott Rawls from Temple University, and began in 2014 with a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Planarians (flatworms), are used in the exercise to demonstrate the effects of commonly abused substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Planarians (flatworms), are used in the exercise to demonstrate the effects of commonly abused substances like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

Using planarians — a species of flatworm used in medical research — the exercise demonstrates the effects of widely abused substances, like nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and sucrose, on behavior. The students introduce the flatworms to solutions containing each of these substances and they observe how each causes the worms to act abnormally.

ECU's Rhea Miles, PhD., works with teachers on developing methods to bring the planarian exercise to the classroom.

ECU’s Rhea Miles, PhD., works with teachers on developing methods to bring the planarian exercise to the classroom.

Miles, who is an associate professor in the Science Education program in the ECU College of Education, said the participating teachers take what they learn from the workshop and each has to develop a unique way to use it in their classrooms.

Mary Hill, a middle school teacher at South Creek Middle School in Martin County, points out the differing behaviors of the flatworm in the water dish and the flatworm in the nicotine solution.

Mary Hill, a middle school teacher at South Creek Middle School in Martin County, points out the differing behaviors of the flatworm in the water dish and the flatworm in the nicotine solution.

Hill picks up a planarian to place it in a solution of highly diluted nicotine.

Hill picks up a planarian to place it in a solution of highly diluted nicotine.

The group of teachers gathered for the fourth annual workshop at ECU on June 19-21 represented middle and high schools in Pitt, Edgecombe, Lenoir, Greene, and Martin counties. Each teacher receives a stipend for completing the workshop.

Mary Hill, a teacher from South Creek Middle School in Martin County, said this was her third year at the workshop because the lesson has proved to have an impact on her students.

“Students get used to how [the flatworms] look in a normal solution, and then when they are put in a solution with a drug they see how it changes their behavior and they get it,” Hill said. “We talk about what is actually going on in the brain of the worm and it is a good message because they don’t forget.”

Watch WITN’s coverage of the workshop here.

By Cole Dittmer

ECU News Services