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A Killer Lake
In 1986, Lake Nyos, a volcanic lake located in Cameroon, Africa, released a huge amount of carbon dioxide gas, killing over 1,700 people and countless livestock and other animals in the area. This case, intended for use in a limnology or an aquatic bio...

A Question of Responsibility
Most students are aware that asbestos is a health hazard, but don’t know that “asbestos” refers to a variety of minerals with both useful and harmful properties. In this case, students answer questions they have about asbestos in the ...

Cancel the Cardinals Home Opener?!?
The St. Louis Cardinals are scheduled to play their home opener the next day and Megan Riley, a young meteorologist who works for a private weather consulting firm, is responsible for developing the weather forecast. It’s starting to look like sh...

Cooling Off a Warming Planet
This role-playing case on climate change policy is designed to engage student groups in parallel discussions on policy instruments and packages for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, student groups discuss cap-and-trade and carbon tax ...

Crazy About Cryptids! An Ecological Hunt for Nessie and Other Legendary Creatures
Who wouldn't want to go in search of a creature like Bigfoot, Yeti, or the Loch Ness Monster?  Using the science of ecology, students do exactly that in this case study that encompasses a variety of case study teaching formats.  Working in gr...

Disappearing Marine Iguanas
In this interrupted case study, students apply the scientific method to probe possible reasons behind declining marine iguana populations in the Galapagos Islands. Initially students are given rudimentary information and encouraged to generate wide-ran...

From Prairies to Corn Fields for Fuel
With increasing U.S. government support for biofuel production in the late 2000s came increased pressure to convert more land to cornfields for ethanol. To make way for more corn, millions of acres of prairie grassland were plowed under, destroying an ...

Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes
This “clicker case” begins by assessing students’ impressions of global climate change and the role that human activities play in recent global warming trends. Students assume the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator. They nee...

Global Climate Change: Impact and Remediation
This “clicker case” is a continuation of another case in our collection, “Global Climate Change: Evidence and Causes,” in which students assumed the role of an intern working for a U.S. senator so that they could advise the sena...

Global Climate Change: What Does it Look Like?
In this interrupted case study, Ph.D.-paleoclimatologist-turned-TV-meteorologist Sara Fahrenheit finds herself projected into a future climate that reminds her of the Early Eocene: it's hot, it's humid, and seems tropical. The story is a vehicle for te...

Into the Abyss
Designed for use with small groups in an introductory geology class, this case allows students to determine the relationship between sinkhole development in a karst terrain and groundwater levels. Students then apply this knowledge to a lawsuit filed b...

Katrina's Troubled Waters
This case study explores some of the health issues brought to light during the flooding in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. The case encourages students to think about a variety of problems that can occur when humans are exposed to unsanitary f...

Life on Mars
This case explores the question of whether there was ever life on Mars and in doing so explores how we define life. The backdrop for the case is the 1996 revelation by NASA of evidence of life on Mars. Through a fictionalized account of the events, the...

Losing the Farm
In this case study, students examine hydrologic characteristics of a real farm property in northwest Georgia and calculate the volume of storm runoff expected for a typical storm using the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (SCS) method. The case is used t...

Of Silt and Ancient Voices
This case explores the complex and multifaceted resource management issues that arose when traditional Zuni Indian land and water use practices were displaced by the construction of the Black Rock Irrigation Project by the U.S. government in the early ...

One Glass for Two People
This case study focuses on the growing issue of water use rights in the southeastern United States. Approximately 1.3 million people in North and South Carolina depend on the Catawba-Wateree River for water and electricity. The river is also important...

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. ...

Should Dinosaurs Be Cloned from Ancient DNA?
Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, as a novel and then a blockbuster movie, reawakened the public's fascination with dinosaurs. Although dinosaurs have always been popular, Spielberg's sophisticated cinema computer graphics thrilled human imagi...

The Dangers of Deicing
Loss of species richness is often due to anthropogenic activity. The global decline of amphibians is one such example. This case study examines the impact of road deicing agents on amphibians living near bridges and roads treated heavily with salt duri...

The Dead Zone
This interrupted case study focuses on the seasonal hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico known as the Dead Zone. It follows Sue, a college student, whose father is a commercial fisherman affected by the lack of fish in his usual fishing grounds in the su...

The Ecological Footprint Dilemma
Is it better to have a new parking lot on campus or use that space to develop a community garden? This is the issue presented in this "clicker case," which pulls students into the decision-making process. Students learn about concepts related to susta...

The Galapagos
Using problem-based learning and role-playing, students analyze the geological origins of the Galapagos Islands, their colonization, species formation, and threats to their biodiversity in this story of a graduate student caught between local fisherme...

The Petition: A Global Warming Case
The goal of this dilemma case study is to teach students about global climate change.  The setting is a faculty meeting where the discussion has turned to a petition circulating in the scientific community against signing the Kyoto Treaty.  S...

The River Damned
In this dilemma case, Congresswoman Madeline Gibson must cast her vote on the fate of the lower Snake River dams. The stakeholders in this decision represent government agencies, small businesses, large industries, farmers, local tribes, environmentali...

The Slippery Slope of Litigating Geologic Hazards
This case, based on a lawsuit brought against the County of Los Angeles by homeowners suing over damage to their homes in the wake of the Portuguese Bend Landslide, teaches students principles of landslide movement while illustrating the difficulties i...

The Value of a Wetland
This case study introduces students to the elements of a renewable resource management project. The issue of wetland drainage, for the purpose of increasing land available for annual crop production, is used to deliver the learning outcomes. Angela, a ...

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...