The activity was implemented by four 10th grade classes with the main goal to raise awareness among students about the need for prevention, control and reduction of health risks caused by drugs like nicotine and caffeine, as foreseen in the curricular unit “Distribution of matter: transport mechanisms in animals” (Unit 2, 10th grade Biology/Geology Program).
The main goal of this practical activity was to evaluate the toxicity of a selection of substances used by humans in their everyday life, using Daphnia magna as a model organism. Daphnia magna is an excellent subject for studying the effects of caffeine and nicotine due to the translucent exoskeleton and the visibly altered heart rate. They are well tolerant of the stress induced by manipulation and observation under a binocular lens.
By taking advantage of the motivational potential of laboratory work it was intended to provide a scientific basis from which to prompt discussion of the effects and risks of drug consumption habits within different societal groups, based on the outcomes gathered through a survey aimed at the school community.