New search
Records 1 to 56 of 56
A Case in Point: From Active Learning to the Job Market
This case was developed for use in the first weeks of a course in order to show students how participating in active learning exercises in their classes can benefit them. It uses the fictionalized story of a manager of a scientific consulting firm who ...

A Case of Medication Error
This case study begins with a real news article about a six-month-old baby who died from an overdose of medication administered by hospital staff. The infant was diagnosed with pneumonia and given an intravenous dose of the antibiotic azithromycin, the...

A Case of Respiratory Distress
This clinical case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and physiological processes in the body. The case pertains to medication-induced methemoglobinemia, its etiology, diagnosis, and treatmen...

A Cool Glass of Water
Does an ice cube melt more quickly in salt water or in freshwater? The answer surprises the group of student science teachers portrayed in this case study. To explain the phenomenon they must figure out the interactions between two clusters of concepts...

A Curious Mission: An Analysis of Martian Molecules
In this case study, students play the role of a NASA scientist tasked with analyzing samples of atmosphere and soil collected on Mars as part of the Mars Curiosity Mission. The case study takes place in the future when samples of the Martian atmosphere...

A Googol of Atoms?
What is a googol?  Invented by Edward Kasner, an American mathematician who popularized the number in his 1940 book, Mathematics and the Imagination, it is a 1 followed by a hundred zeros. This directed case in estimation and very large n...

A Light Lunch?
This case study was developed to engage students by making connections between core concepts in chemistry and obesity related factors. The case is in the form of a story between two friends and their underestimation of the calories they consumed in a m...

A Recipe for Invention
In this case study, designed to help break down stereotypes about scientists and engineers, students research the personal and professional lives of researchers in their field. The case was designed for use in high school to graduate courses in a varie...

A Struggle for Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam
The Three Gorges Dam in China is one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams, providing energy for millions of people. However, the dam's construction forever altered the Yangtze River ecosystem and the lives of local residents. In this case study, s...

Accidental Drowning or Foul Play?
This case was developed for use in the first semester of a sophomore organic chemistry laboratory to illustrate how a combination of techniques is usually required in the identification of chemical compounds. It involves a murder mystery with a forensi...

Aliens on Earth?
The discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA was announced with much fanfare in 2010. It was immediately and very publicly critiqued by researchers posting their analyses of the paper on their blogs. The author...

As Light Meets Matter
In this dilemma case, the central character, a museum curator, must decide whether or not to show a painting as a hitherto “undiscovered” Cezanne. The stylistic analysis suggests it is for real, but data obtained using different spectroscop...

Avogadro Goes to Court
This case study was inspired by a successful lawsuit brought by students against a professor at Pace University who had assigned them the task of calculating the cost of a single aluminum atom in a roll of aluminum foil. The case deals with the concept...

Baffled by the Baby Bottle
This case is based on an actual article entitled "Baby Alert" that appeared in Consumer Reports (May 1999). The article raises some concerns about the safety of polycarbonate baby bottles, and recommends that parents dispose of them as a preca...

Bioluminescence and 16th-century Caravaggism
This case study looks at the probable connection between bioluminescence and Caravaggio's painting style in the 16th century in order to explore the mechanism of bioluminescence and its role in animal evolution and modern medicine. Recent studies have ...

Bonding with the Tutor: How to Stick Together in Chemistry
This case study presents the story of "Nick," a student who has been assigned the task of writing a research paper describing the fundamentals of chemical bonds and how they relate to human life. When Nick experiences difficulty remembering information...

Burning Down the House
In this lab-based case, arson investigator “Marie Stanforth” comes under suspicion when her ex-husband dies in a fire. Students assume the role of forensic chemists working for the FBI to analyze charred samples recovered from the crime sce...

Cooking Under Pressure
The Clarksons are making dinner for friends and decide to try out their new pressure cooker. As students read the dialogue that ensues, they learn about how the boiling point of water is directly related to external pressure, apply the ideal gas law, a...

Corn Ethanol: Using Corn to Make Fuel?
This problem-based case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the scientific issues surrounding the production and development of bio-fuels. A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times article outlining the impact current ...

Deflategate: A Real Application of the Ideal Gas Law
This case study involves analysis of data collected as part of the National Football League's investigation into the New England Patriots allegedly deflating footballs to gain a competitive advantage in a 2015 playoff game. The scandal and subsequent i...

Developing a Holistic Understanding of Hybridization and Resonance
This case study is the result of the author's efforts to help students master the complex concept of resonance by unifying multiple concepts across general chemistry and organic chemistry courses. Resonance is a key building block for students' underst...

Dust to Dust
Tom and his grandfather, a retired high school chemistry teacher, are talking about a National Geographic television documentary titled “Waking the Baby Mammoth.” As students read the dialogue that ensues, they learn how carbon, an essentia...

Ethanol or Biodiesel?
In this case study, two students have been asked to conduct a “systems analysis” study to determine whether ethanol derived from corn or biodiesel prepared from soybeans is the more energy efficient alternative fuel. The students must inves...

Fat Facts
It's Mother's Day and Dolly, a high school senior, is making a Mediterranean salad for her mom, who is a college chemistry major and who likes to take every opportunity to teach Dolly what she has learned in school. Today is no exception, as she guides...

Filthy Lucre
"Tom Brown" is arrested at the airport on his way home for winter break and charged with possession of cocaine when a drug sniffing dog detects traces of the narcotic in his caryy-on bag. Some of the money he is carrying has apparently been contaminate...

Fuel from Water and the Sun
This problem-based case study presents recent advancements in the development and application of technologies geared towards harnessing sunlight for the production of hydrogen from water. A PowerPoint presentation introduces the topic with a New Yo...

Gas Cylinders and Safety
This case study, developed for an introductory chemistry course as part of a two-year dental hygiene curriculum, teaches students how to apply gas properties and gas storage identification systems to identify a mishandled or mislabeled gas cylinder.

Get the Lead Out!
This case study, developed for a general chemistry course, is intended to teach students the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science. Students take on the role of environmental chemists.  Using atomic absorption spectroscopy, they test f...

History of the Atom
In this clicker case, students are guided through the history of atomic structure, and in the spirit of discovery learning, use data from historical experiments to discern the different models of the atom. In particular, students move from the time of ...

Hydrogen Powered Cars
This problem-based case study guides students through a systematic exploration of the scientific issues surrounding the application and development of hydrogen fuel technology. A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times article abou...

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for the Apple Industry?
In this interrupted case, students analyze a peer-reviewed article and apply the scientific method to solve an agricultural mystery. A fictional apple farmer and his son are trying to determine if high fructose corn syrup has led to the loss of the bee...

Kermit to Kermette?
This case study explores the unintended side effects of chemicals introduced into the environment, specifically organic compounds that can act as environmental estrogens (chemical castration agents that can interfere with the sexual development of embr...

Let's Get This Course Started
The first day of class is often a reading of the syllabus, even when active learning approaches are used throughout the rest of the term. This interrupted case uses the first day to model the expectations of a course that uses case method approaches. S...

Liquid Coal
In this problem-based case study, students systematically explore the scientific issues surrounding the application and development of coal-to-liquid fuel technology. An introductory reading from the New York Times highlights the significant i...

Mystery in Alaska
This interrupted case study highlights the importance of energy considerations within food chains by examining the population decline of Steller sea lions along the western Alaskan coast. A ban on commercial fishing of pollock in the 1970s caused a shi...

One Headache After Another: Biochemistry Edition
Topamax®, developed to treat epilepsy, is also used as a preventative for migraine. In this case study, students read about a woman experiencing a side-effect of Topamax and from there move to a review of acid-base balance in the human body. The ca...

PCBs in the Last Frontier
This interrupted case study is based on current research involving the global transport of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Students are asked to propose several hypotheses and experiments in an attempt to determine how PCBs are transferred globally. ...

Properties of Gases: A Case Study of the Bends
In 2012, Mike Prickett, a world-renowned underwater cinematographer, was working on a commercial photo shoot in Tahiti when he witnessed a fellow diver sinking and drowning. While saving the drowning victim, Mike fell victim to decompression sickness (...

Rated MPG for Confusion
This case study follows a family’s dilemma about how to save money on gasoline. Should they keep their SUV and trade in their Corolla for a hybrid sedan? Going from 28 (Corolla) to 48 (Hybrid) miles per gallon (MPG) should really save money on ...

Setting Water on Fire: A Case Study in Hydrofracking
This case study is used to teach undergraduate students about hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking), a controversial method for extracting methane from shale. The controversy arises from claims that chemicals used in the fracking process and the methane...

Should Bill Buy Sammy?
In this case, students are shown the relevance of chemistry in daily decision-making by taking a look at the popular dietary supplement, s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), widely used in Europe for depression, arthritis, and liver disease and now available i...

Sweet Truth
This case reviews concepts of monosaccharide, disaccharide, and polysaccharide and contrasts the structures of different pairs of carbohydrates as well as the structure of sorbitol, a sugar substitute. It also depicts stereo chemistry concepts such as ...

The Art of a Deal
This case is a classroom simulation of the types of negotiations that went into the Kyoto Protocol agreement on limiting global greenhouse gas emissions. It was developed for an environmental science course for first-year college students with minimal ...

The Case of the Missing Bees
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the be...

The Case of the Tainted Taco Shells: General Edition
This case discusses some of the issues associated with the use of genetically modified plants, including ecological risks, resistance, and allergenicity. The case has two versions, or editions.  This edition (the "General Edition") emphasizes the ...

The Chemistry of Cocaine
This case study on the chemistry of cocaine is in the form of a classroom discussion between a professor and her students about cocaine, its addictive properties, a search for an addiction treatment, and the chemistry involved in the synthesis of cocai...

The Molecular Origin of Life: Replication or Metabolism-First? Advanced Version
This case explores both the evidence and inconsistencies in the two major hypotheses for the origins of life on Earth: Replication-First or Metabolism-First. The case has two versions published on this website - one is written at the introductory level...

The Never-Ending Contamination
This case study discusses a possible national security crisis of a terrorist group stealing radioactive materials in an attempt to build and detonate a dirty bomb over a densely populated metropolitan area. Specifically, this case discusses radioactive...

The Secret of Popcorn Popping
Focusing on the important role of water in living cellular chemistry, this case emphasizes the general solubility rule, "like dissolves like," which explains how water can serve as a medium for transporting the cell's soluble nutrients and wastes. The ...

The Spark of Life
In biology classes, students are typically taught that spontaneous generation does not take place. And yet, at the origin of life, life had to arise without parents from abiotic processes. What were those processes that gave rise to the first life?&nbs...

The Van Deemter Equation
Developed for an upper-level undergraduate instrumental analysis course, this case actively engages students in an understanding of the abstract, often difficult to grasp, concepts of the van Deemter equation, important in the field of chemical separat...

Thinking Inside the Box
In this particular take on the classic “Black Box Experiment,” students working in groups are given sealed boxes containing objects that they must make indirect observations about and then report their observations to the class in a simulat...

Those Pesky Side-Reactions
The characters in this dilemma case must balance personal financial considerations, their professional futures, and time constraints against ensuring that the new product they are proposing is safe. The case explores the issues surrounding ethical deci...

To Spray or Not to Spray
In this case study, students grapple with the complex issues surrounding the use of DDT to control malaria in the developing world. In their examination of the issue, students consider risk/benefit analysis and the precautionary principle, two techniqu...

Using Oceans to Fight Global Warming?
This problem-based case study explores the scientific issues surrounding the use of large scale iron fertilization as a means of decreasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide.  A PowerPoint presentation introduces a New York Times artic...

Would You Supersize My Cancer, Please?
The recent discovery of acrylamide in both fried and baked foods like French fries and potato chips has caused alarm. Acrylamide is both a known carcinogen in animals when administered in high doses and a neurotoxin when humans are exposed to large amo...