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Microbial Pie, or What Did You Feed the Neighbors?


Theresa Hornstein
Biology Department
Lake Superior College


The Emergency Room seems busier than usual, and the cases coming in are all too similar.  Everyone seems to be suffering from the same symptoms - abdominal pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.  Once the hospital staff identify the bacteria causing the problems, the next step is tracking down the source.  This case uses a story of microbial contamination, combined with lab experiments, to teach skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and experimental design and analysis.  It was developed for a general microbiology course primarily composed of health care students and biology majors planning to transfer to four-year schools. There are three labs associated with this case.

  • Develop critical thinking skills.
  • Practice a team approach to problem solving.
  • Demonstrate how microbiology influences even the most trivial things we do.
  • Recognize the possible sources of contamination and control methods for dealing with microbes.
  • Understand why epidemiology is important.
  • Explore the environmental pressures that encourage the formation of resistant populations of microbes in a real-life setting.
  • Work with experimental design and analysis.
  • Have fun with microbiology.
Keywords: E. coli; Escherichia coli; microbes; bacteria; antibiotic-resistant bacteria; food contamination; food poisoning; experimental design
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Laboratory, Student Presentations
Language: English
Subject Headings: Microbiology   Biology (General)   Science (General)   Epidemiology   Public Health  
Date Posted: 08/21/00
Date Modified: N/A
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.

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