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Terry Platt
Professor of Biochemistry and Biology
Department of Biology
University of Rochester
A Diet to Die For: An Exploration of Oxidative Phosphorylation

This clicker case is designed to lead students to a conceptual understanding of oxidative phosphorylation (and, by analogy, photosynthesis). Students begin with a pre-class handout that presents background information on DNP, a weight-loss drug that was used in the 1930s, often with fatal consequences, leading to the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration. In the classroom, students work through a PowerPoint presentation about a college athlete who uses dinitrophenol obtained on the internet to lose weight, and winds up in the emergency room. Investigation by his twin sister reveals the scientific reasons for the dangers he encountered. The same topic with a slightly different emphasis is presented in another case in our collection titled "Wrestling with Weight Loss: The Dangers of a Weight-Loss Drug."

Acids, pH, and Buffers: Some Basic Chemistry for Biological Science

In this “clicker case,” a three-year-old girl gets into the medicine cabinet and ingests an unknown number of aspirin tablets. Her brother calls 911 and the girl is taken to a nearby hospital, where she is treated. The case is used to discuss the Law of Mass Action, chemical equilibrium and equilibrium constants, pH, and weak acids and buffers in the context of medical management of a life-threatening emergency. It is called a “clicker” case because it is designed to be presented in a class that uses personal response systems, or “clickers.” The case is presented via a series of PowerPoint slides (~400KB) punctuated by multiple-choice questions, which the students answer using their clickers. It could be adapted for use without these technologies. The case is suitable for use in an introductory biology course where integration with biologically relevant chemistry is an important course objective. It could also be used in a chemistry course.

The Case of the Druid Dracula: Clicker Case Version 

This “clicker case” is a modified version of another case in our collection by the same name. It uses a PowerPoint presentation (~3MB) to present the case, which is punctuated by multiple-choice questions that students answer in class using hand-held personal response systems ("clickers"). The story revolves around a murder committed in Wales that was solved through DNA analysis. Students learn about DNA structure and replication, and how scientists have adapted this process for use in experimentation and forensic analysis, including PCR analysis and DNA fingerprinting. The students then use this knowledge to identify possible suspects in the crime. The case is designed for use in an introductory biology course either for science majors or non-majors. It could be modified for use in upper level classes as well.