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Created by : 
University of Minnesota Department of Neuroscience and Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Three lesson plans explore the disease of addiction and the changes that take place in the brain. C. elegans and Alcohol is a laboratory experiment where students test the effects of alcohol on the roundworm. What’s the Deal? is a card game that models the unknown potential for individual addiction and Dendritic Spines Lab allows students to investigate how neurons change their connectivity when exposed to the drug morphine.

What’s In the Lesson Plan: 

  • 9-minute video
  • Optional Lab Teacher Guide
  • Three lesson plans:
  • 1. C. elegans and Alcohol: teacher’s guide and student guide
  • 2. What’s the Deal? Addiction Card Game: teacher’s guide, player instruction sheets, and discussion questions
  • 3. Dendritic Spines Lab: teacher’s guide, photos, and two handouts (Control Example and Morphine Effect Example

Grade Level(s): 


Student Skills Targeted: 

  • Skills in conducting scientific investigations
  • Skills in analytic thinking and problem solving
  • Knowledge of the biology of the brain and addiction

Time / Duration: 

  • C. elegans and Alcohol: 1 - 2 class periods
  • What's the Deal?: 1 class period
  • Dendritic Spines Lab: 1 - 2 class periods


  • Computer with Internet access per 1 or 2 students
  • Printer/Copier for teacher and student instruction sheets

Alignment with National Standards: 

  • Next Generation Science Standards


  • English