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Awards & Recognition


Erica F. Kosal
Department of Biology
North Carolina Wesleyan College


We are a recipient of a 2004 National Dissemination grant from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education and has been cited as a source for model case studies by the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science



Keywords: 2004 National Dissemination grant, National Science Foundation Division of Undergraduate Education, NSF, National Science Digital Library, NSDL, American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS, National Research Council, NRC, Biology2010
Topical Area: web20
Educational Level: web20
Formats: web20
Type/Method: web20
Language: web20
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Ecology   Biology (General)   Zoology  
Date Posted: 3/5/2010
Date Modified:
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

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I used this case in a cooperative experience with a middle school science teacher and a Chatham colleague. We broke the case into smaller “chunks” that would fit in a 40-minute class period. At the end of each chunk we raised questions for the students to consider, and they wrote responses in a science journal. We created charts to help the students organize information and their answers. We also located and designed activities that corresponded to sections of the case. For example, when the case mentioned dissolved oxygen, we had the students do a hands-on activity to explore the concept of dissolved oxygen. We also used the 5E Model of Inquiry paying particular attention to 2 of the 5 essential features of application and extension. [Editor‘s Note: see for a brief description of this model.] Through the process of exploring the case, students refined their initial hypothesis and cited the evidence for their decisions (again, all of this was recorded in their journals). At the end of the case study, the students had a field trip to an area called Nine Mile Run which empties into the Monongahela River. It was, in the past, a source of contamination and a ”fish kill“ location. It has since been cleaned up and no longer serves as a pollution source.

By taking this case in smaller chunks and exploring vocabulary when necessary, we felt the case was an excellent way to engage middle school students in the process of inquiry.

There is an excellent book, And the Waters Turned to Blood: The Ultimate Biological Threat by K. Baker (Simon and Shuster, 1997), that gives more context to the case and some interesting information about the health effects of this study on the scientists who conducted the research. Another book that might be of interest is one we used by Jean Craighead George, Who Really Killed Cock Robin? An Ecological Mystery published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in 1991.

Barbara Biglan
Chatham University
Pittsburgh, PA

I retired from public high school and I'm teaching in a diocesan middle school. I have used the case studies extensively in high school but I've modified some of them for middle school. As always, I and my students appreciate what your program at Buffalo has done for our understanding of difficult concepts. Science is fun and this could not be more true than when my environmental science class put on a school-wide performance about the content in The Fish Kill Mystery. I have video about segments if you'd like to enjoy them with us. Thank you for allowing me to make the content "real" for my students.

Patrick Alarcon
Middle School Science
St. Mary School
Ridgefield, Ct 06877

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