This series of modules was developed to help middle school students make healthier choices with respect to drug consumption, however the ideas explored should also empower student to make healthier decisions regarding their food and beverage intake. By establishing a more scientific understanding of how a commonly consumed chemical like sucrose (table sugar) functions in the body and provokes the sensation of sweet, it should be easier to recognize how and why molecules like nicotine (in tobacco products), ethanol (in consumable alcohol), THC (in marijuana), heroin and other opioids, can have effects on the body. Again, by providing this background, we hope middle school students will make healthier choices regarding their food, drink, and drug consumption.
During this lesson, students will explore the chemical makeup of the sucrose molecule which composes table sugar. They will also learn how sucrose interacts with taste receptors on the tongue such that the brain interprets the sensation of sweet. In addition, there will be a basic comparison between sucrose and citric acid (which interact with sweet and sour taste receptors, respectively). This module will also inform students about what products contain sucrose (table sugar) and give fundamental information about chemical–receptor binding that will be used in other modules in this series.
(This is written as the first in a series of modules involving chemicals such as caffeine, ethanol (in consumable alcohol), and nicotine. The other modules are found at digital.kenyon.edu/celchem401)