WASHINGTON – Students from Baltimore-area schools saw the result of more than a year's efforts Wednesday when the National Institute on Drug Abuse formally unveiled its new teen Web site.
The site,aimed at teenagers ages 11 to 15,gives information about drugs and drug abuse that is relevant to that age group. To help ensure its appeal to teens,NIDA enlisted 12 teens and pre-teens to help design games and other aspects of the Web site.
Five of the students attended the press briefing and demonstrated their work for reporters. For many of the students,it was the first time they had seen the completed site.
Jasmynn Speight,13,from Parkville Middle School,said she enjoyed the games most of all.
“It was fun trying to guess the answers,” she said as she played “Dr. NIDA’s Challenge,” in which players create the picture of a character by answering questions about drug abuse.
The site contains three games that teach about the effects of drugs on the human body and brain. Students can also read stories about real people who have recovered from drug addictions and their experiences with drugs.
Brian Zimmerman,11,from Cockeysville Elementary School,said he thinks the real stories section will be most interesting.
Brian,who worked on the project for three weeks,said the hardest part of the project was “thinking of what other kids will want.”
Ebony Short,12,from Deer Park Middle School,said the project could be difficult at times.
“I've never helped with something that will go around the world before,” she said.
Jasmynn and Ebony agreed that some changes still need to be made. They said the site has too many words and that kids don't want to have to read everything.
This year NIDA budgeted $5 million for science education,which includes funding for the Web site and educational materials for science teachers. NIDA expects that most students will use the site in classrooms.
Dr. Nora Volkow,NIDA director,said the Web site,which debuted on the Internet Sept. 1,has already received more than 40,000 hits.
“This is already very successful,” Volkow said. “It is a place to get knowledge and information that is up to date and comprehensive.”
In addition,Volkow said NIDA has mailed 40,000 information packets to educators and has received more requests for materials.
Nancy Kaplan,a professor at the University of Baltimore's School of Information Arts and Technologies,said three professors and a number of graduate students worked on the project along with the teens.
“It will have such an enormous impact in the real world,” Kaplan said. She said it was important to have children involved in the creation of the site to “figure out what kids really think about drug abuse.”
She said there are plans to continue working with the site and updating it.
The site is http://www.teens.drugabuse.gov