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Nancy A. Rice
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Western Kentucky University
Another Can of Bull?: Do Energy Drinks Really Provide a Source of Energy?

This case is a “clicker” adaptation of a similarly titled case by Merle Heidemann and Gerald Urquhart of Michigan State University, “A Can of Bull?” The story introduces students to basic principles of metabolism and energy through a biochemical analysis of commonly available “energy drinks” that many students purchase at relatively high prices. Students learn to define energy in a biological/nutritional context, identify valid biochemical sources of energy, discuss how foods are metabolized to generate ATP, and critically evaluate marketing claims for various energy drinks. The case can be used in introductory level courses to introduce these principles or as a review of basic biochemistry and nutrition for upper-level students in nutrition, physiology, or biochemistry courses. The case is presented in class using a PowerPoint (~2.3MB) that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions students answer using personal response systems, or “clickers.”

But I'm Too Young!: A Case Study of Ovarian Cancer

In this “clicker case,” students are introduced to Abby, a college student who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As they follow Abby’s plight, students learn about basic cellular and genetic mechanisms that are responsible for cancer formation, gaining a general understanding of how cells become cancerous through genetic mutations, how cancers can spread throughout the body by metastasizing, and how modern medicine is currently treating patients diagnosed with cancer through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Developed for use in a large introductory biology course, the case consists of a PowerPoint (~2MB) presented in class that is punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students answer using “clickers.” The case can be adapted for use without these technologies.

Face the Fats: The Biochemistry of Lipids

This clicker case introduces students to the biochemistry of lipids through the story of Pete, a college student who begins to consider his nutritional fat intake after watching a commercial for the cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin. In this case, students learn to differentiate the chemical composition of steroids, phospholipids, and fats as well as how lipids affect our health, both in positive and negative ways. Additionally, students learn how trans fats are manufactured and why they can have negative health side-effects. The case is designed for use in an introductory biology course either for science majors or non-majors. It could potentially be further modified for use in an upper-level biochemistry or cell biology class. The case is called a clicker case because it combines the use of PowerPoint slides (~3.74MB) and student response systems ("clickers") with a case storyline and questions. The case could be modifed however for use without these technologies.

The Wolfman and the Chromosomal Basis of Heredity 

This “clicker case” tells the story of Danny Gomez, a Mexican circus performer, and his family in order to teach basic principles of genetics and chromosomal inheritance. Five generations of the Gomez family suffer from a very rare disease called congenital generalized hypertrichosis, which results in excess body hair in places that would not usually have significant hair growth. During this case, students explore basic Mendelian inheritance patterns, learn how probability is connected to genetic outcomes, and are introduced to the concepts of lyonization and atavism. The case is designed for use in an introductory non-majors biology course; it could also be used in a high school AP-Biology course. It consists of a series of PowerPoint slides (~800KB) presented in class that are punctuated by multiple-choice questions the students answer using “clickers.” It could be adpated for use without these technologies.