Lesson Plans

How Do Drugs Damage Neurons? It's Radical!

Created by : 
Duke University Medical Center, The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

This interactive module focuses on the chemical process of oxidation and reduction. It uses the example of how methamphetamine acts in the brain to teach students basic principles about oxidative reactions, including the ability of oxygen radicals to attack (oxidize) cellular lipids, proteins and DNA, and how oxidation of these cellular components can cause cells to degenerate.  This is one of six modules from the Pharmacology Education Partnership that helps high school students learn biology and chemistry concepts through the study of drugs.

What’s In the Lesson Plan: 

  • 1 interactive module
  • Teacher instructional guide and notes
  • Content background information
  • Student handout
  • Classroom activities
  • Additional Resources

Grade Level(s): 


Student Skills Targeted: 

  • Knowledge of how oxygen participates in an oxidative reaction
  • Understanding of how an oxygen radical is formed.
  • Basic principles of oxidative reactions

Time / Duration: 

  • 1-2 class periods


  • Computer with Internet access per 1 or 2 students
  • Printer/copier for printable module worksheet and answer guide

Alignment with National Standards: 

  • Next Generation High School Physical Science Standards
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Benchmarks for Science Literacy


  • English