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Empowering Teens: NIDA Toolkit for Out of School Time

Why Use This Toolkit?

This toolkit offers science-based activities and resources on drug use and addiction for educating teens during out of school time (OST). The OST setting—before and after school, in the summer, or any time teens attend a supervised program outside of the typical school time—offers a unique opportunity for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning.

The activities in this toolkit inspire learning and empower teens with the information they need to make informed decisions about drug use and their health.

How To Use the Toolkit

These activities and resources are designed for educators, parents, youth-serving organizations, and anyone who has the opportunity to educate teens. You can use each one independently of the others, or use them as a comprehensive package. Customize them to suit your own drug and science education activities. If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with using any of the following resources, we encourage you to contact us.

What's In the Toolkit?

Science-based activities and lessons and how to use them in the OST setting:

Brain Power! Challenge
Brain Power!
Take teens on an exploration of the science behind drug use to learn the effects of drugs on the brain and body.

An interactive science education program for teens in grades 6–9 about the brain and the effects of drugs on the body.

What’s in the Brain Power! Program:

  • Six step-by-step modules
  • Teachers Guide
  • Resources for students
  • Parent guides
  • Online activities

How to use it:

The modules build on each other but can easily be used out of sequence. Choose to follow the full modules, or select activities that make sense for your program and the time you have available. We suggest presenting the background information to teens, assigning them to groups, and then having them participate in the Challenge series activity. Also, check out Brain Power: Grades 4-5.


Drugs & Health
Drugs & Health Blog and Teacher's Guide
Help teens make connections between what they see and hear and what the science says about drug use.

Blog posts and discussion questions for teens to help them think critically about how drugs and drug use can affect them today, and about the choices they make for tomorrow.

What's in the Drugs & Health Blog and Teacher's Guide:

  • Weekly blog posts
  • Classroom activities
  • Discussion questions

How to use it:

Have participants read the blog posts on their own or pre-select one for them to read. Use the activities and discussion questions provided to encourage teens to think critically about how drugs and drug use can affect them today and the choices they make tomorrow. Blog posts can be printed or accessed online with computer access.


Addiction Science Award
Addiction Science Award and Teacher's Guide
Encourage teens to participate in the world's largest science competition for high school students.

Encourages teens to direct their own learning by doing. The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is the world’s largest science competition for high school students. The Addiction Science Award is given to exemplary projects on the topic of addiction science.

What’s in the Addiction Science Award and Teacher's Guide:

  • How to get teens excited about the ISEF or any science fair
  • How to find project ideas
  • Safety and privacy guidelines

How to use it:

Encourage teens to develop stimulating and evidence-based science fair projects by helping them see how science concepts can be applied to their everyday lives. Encourage them to think about how drugs, drug use, and addiction may impact their school, social, and home life. Use examples of compelling projects from previous science fair winners to get teens thinking about the range of ideas available to them.


Scholastic Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body
Scholastic Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body
Educate teens about drugs, drug use, and life skills with activities and lessons from Scholastic.

Science-based lessons and activities developed by education experts about the effects of drugs and drug use on the brain and body.

What’s in the Heads-Up Series:

  • Lesson plans and printables
  • Student articles and activities
  • Critical thinking questions and writing prompts
  • Posters
  • Online classroom interactives
  • Vocabulary lists

How to use it:

Download full lesson plans with teaching guides that describe how to implement each lesson or activity. Or use student articles, activities with or without a computer, and posters on their own. 


Additional Resources
These resources can be used out of school or anytime.


Other Resources

NIGMS online STEM and career-related training resources that can be used to enhance remote learning:

NIH-funded citizen science video games: