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From the Field: Nora Volkow

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an in-depth profile of Nora Volkow, the neuroscientist in charge of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In the accompanying video, Volkow talks about the psychology and physiology behind addiction.

According to Volkow, the impulse that drives one person to buy a chocolate bar from a bucket sitting at a checkout counter, even when she doesn't really want a chocolate bar, may be similar to the way an addict returns time and again to a substance, behavior, or activity even when he knows he shouldn't, really doesn't want to, or has vowed to steer clear. Good intentions aside, breaking patterns of addiction can be extremely difficult, and when it comes to substance addiction, the substance affects the dopamine levels in the brain—a high that addicts want to repeat.

Increased dopamine levels, alone, however, don't explain addiction. One time, in and of itself, doesn't create addiction. According to the New York Times article, researchers suggest that genetics play a role, as do changes in the brain that result from patterns of addiction.


Making Connections

If you are interested in human psychology, physiology, or neuroscience, you can use a bag of marshmallows, a bell, and a group of friends to explore similar issues of human behavior in the Enjoy It Now... Or Enjoy It Later? Understanding Delayed Gratification, project. Would you rather have one marshmallow now or two in 15 minutes? You might think you want two. But can you hold out? Don't like marshmallows? Substitute a favorite treat and put it to the test.


Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies and Autodesk for Student STEM Exploration


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Hands-on engineering got a boost of balloon power with the fun 2015 Fluor® Engineering Challenge. Congratulations to everyone who joined the challenge and shared their creation! Take a look at some of the great entries!

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A recent robotics workshop gave students in New Jersey the opportunity to experiment with 3D design using Autodesk® Tinkercad® and then to use their custom parts in their robots.

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School and family science weekly spotlight: What happens when you heat up or cool down a bunch of molecules? Do rubber bands behave as you might expect?

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This year, give your hardboiled eggs a twist and turn ordinary ovoid hardboiled eggs into fun shapes! The trick to the transformation is understanding the science behind the process of hardboiling.

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School and family science weekly spotlight: mix up your own bubbly drink and experiment to find just the right combination of ingredients.

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As winter turns to spring, farmers are preparing to plant this year's crops. For some, tilling their fields is a thing of the past.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



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