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Lesson Plans

Why Do Plants Make Drugs for Humans?

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

This interactive module discusses some of the common elements of drugs derived from plants, including cocaine, nicotine, caffeine, THC (the major component of marijuana), morphine, and aspirin. It teaches basic plant biology, human biology, and chemistry principles by discussing several properties of drugs obtained from plants. 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: 

  • Protein function
  • Understand basic plant structure and classification
  • Understand acid-base chemistry
  • Understanding that different areas of the brain have different functions

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: 

  • National Science Education Standards
  • Benchmarks for Science Literacy


  • English