Question Sheet: Nature’s Medicines


Before reading:

  1. How would you define what a “natural” medicine is?
  2. What did people do to ease pain or treat headaches before aspirin, Advil, or


During reading:

  1. Why did Ben Powell hypothesize that chemicals in a stingray’s skin might

    fight infection?

  2. What does ISEF stand for? Who participates in this competition?
  3. Why was Kels Phelps interested in the soapweed yucca plant?
  4. When can inflammation occur? What are its main symptoms?
  5. What made Iddoshe Hirpa start drinking lots of green tea?
  6. Explain why the compound EGCG was important to Iddoshe’s project. See (MSNBC, Reuters).

After reading:

  1. What medicines that are not prescribed by a doctor do you use? Are any of

    these “natural” medicines? If so, why do you use them?

  2. Why are some researchers and doctors interested in folk or herbal medicines?
  3. Of the three science projects described in the article, which one do you

    think has the most benefit for society? Why?

  4. Come up with three reasons why it might be important to have alternatives to

    modern painkillers such as Advil or Tylenol?

  5. If you were a judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

    and you had to judge the three projects described in the article, what questions

    would you ask each student? How would you decide which project is the best of

    the three?


  1. Chinese medicine has a long history of using herbs. Describe some of these

    traditional herbal medicines. What are they used for? See (Dr. Joseph F. Smith

    Medical Library) or Health News).

  2. What is traditional medicine? Why might it be important? See (World Health Organization).


  1. Imagine what one of the students mentioned in the article might be like 40

    years from now. What would he or she be doing? Write a short story describing an episode in the later life of one of these characters.

  2. Ben got the idea for his science project by talking to scientists around him. Come up with a scientist you might be interested in learning from. Write him or her a letter about what you are interested in and how he or she might be able to help.


Each morning, a patient takes a pill containing 50 milligrams of a certain medicine. By the next morning, 40 percent of this medicine is washed out of the patient’s body. How much medicine is in the patient’s system after one day just before taking the next dose? How much medicine is in the patient’s system on day 2 just before the next pill is taken? How much is in the patient’s system on day 2 just after a pill is taken?