Rising senior Sid Thakker started NicReport in 2019 as a new resource to teach the dangers of vaping, also commonly known as “JUULing.” After seeing the problem of vaping in his school and developing an interest in biology, he started working on lessons to teach all aspects of nicotine addiction and e-cigarettes in the Fairfax County Public Schools system.
“I made it my goal to develop my own curriculum for not just my high school,” the 17-year-old Thakker told Patch.
E-cigarettes are an alternative to cigarettes that have become popular among youth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these electronic devices that heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of particles in the air. Most contain nicotine, the addictive substance found in regular cigarettes, and are believed to be harmful to developing brains in young people.
Thakker has developed new lessons for the ninth and tenth grade health curriculum, as well as biology. The biology curriculum looks into the science of nicotine addiction, while health class focuses on social and health implications.
He started teaching lessons last September, and other juniors and seniors have volunteered to teach the lower grades as well. He believes the lessons can stick when they come from a peer rather than a teacher.
“As a student, I can just go up to them and be like, listen, I want to help,” he said.
His nonprofit is partnering with the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia Commonwealth University and Georgetown University medical campus on the effort. He also worked with administrative officials to create a curriculum for any Fairfax County school and had plans to expand into Langley, Oakton and South Lakes High Schools. The the coronavirus pandemic has delayed that effort; nevertheless, his lessons have reached 2,000 students and counting.
In the meantime, Thakker is sharing vaping related, including research on the link between coronavirus and vaping. He’s also worked on converting lessons to teach online and raised over $5,000 to donate to Feeding America.