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A Green Light for CFLs?
In this problem-based learning case, three housemates in an environmentally-themed college house debate the pros and cons of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) over incandescent lamps. The students raise issues of the cost difference between the lamps (b...

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...

Agony and Ecstasy
This interrupted case study explores the scientific, legal, and societal complexities of repurposing an illicit substance, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as "Ecstasy" or "Molly," into a clinically accepted medicine for treating po...

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...

Cauldron of Democracy
This case study explores the controversy surrounding Yellowstone bison (Bison bison) and the relationship between wildlife management and pluralist democracy. In the late 1960s Yellowstone National Park suspended the policy of strictly managin...

Chemical Eric Can't See
This autobiographical case study presents the story of Eric as he learns that he has a genetic eye disease, which progresses to the point that he becomes legally blind. The story is true and, in this respect, similar to another case by the same author ...

Chickens and Humans and Pigs, Oh My!
Influenza is a common topic in the popular press and a point of interest for many students.  This case study was written to promote interdisciplinary connections between upper division virology and immunology classes.  Students that participa...

Community-Based Management and Conservation in Africa
Niko lives in Namibia and is about to attend a community meeting at which the fate of his family's re-settlement will be decided. He is unsure as to what would be best for his family; his father does not want to move while his brother is optimistic tha...

Complexity in Conservation
Conservation biology focuses on the scientific study and practice of preventing biodiversity loss. Many complex sociocultural factors affect the success of conservation. This case study presents the true story of a Texas man who killed a cat that was k...

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...

East Meets West
Ying is sick and is progressively getting worse. His parents' clashing views on Eastern and Western medicine prevent them from agreeing on a course of treatment. As the case unfolds, students follow the progression of their son's illness. After a physi...

Ethnomedicine in Latino Communities of Madison
This PowerPoint-delivered case study guides the reader, a hypothetical student intern with the City of Madison (Wisconsin) Public Health Department, as he/she assists a physician who was awarded a grant to investigate the use of herbal medicines by Lat...

Fannie’s Fix
This case study is targeted to the middle school science student and written especially with female students in mind. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it combines content from physical science and areas of biology (bacteriology, pathology) to tell ...

Farming in Space
If you were limited to choosing only three crops to sustainably farm in an arid, inhospitable environment, what would they be and how would you decide? This interrupted case study places students in the role of a proposed self-sufficient Martian colony...

Hidden in Plain Sight
As nonliving entities, viruses face specific challenges when replicating in a host.  Avoiding the host immune system is something that every virus aims for in order to successfully reproduce itself and infect another host.  Many viruses repli...

Josie
In this interdisciplinary case, students meet Josie, the main character, who suffers from a variety of symptoms. Students must grapple with the conflicting data presented, which ultimately leads them to a diagnosis of either porphyria or schizophrenia....

Mathematics in Conservation
This interrupted case study teaches probability theory and transmission genetics through their application to the conservation of the endangered Florida panther. An endangered population is unlikely to survive simply due to its small population size. B...

Moving to Higher Ground: Ecosystems, Economics and Equity in the Floodplain
Healthy river systems serve a wide variety of functions, including recreation, crop production, and navigation. Effective floodplain management requires integrating cultural, economic and ecosystem needs, and often tradeoffs must be made. This case stu...

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 ...

Potato Chip Problems
In this case study, students assume the role of a quality assurance team that is in charge of determining potential causes and solutions for potato chip bags that open during the shipping process. Students will use basic quality control tools to evalua...

Restoring Resilience: Changing the Landscape Legacy in Patagonia
Sheep ranching has destroyed habitat and decimated species in many areas of the world, but in Patagonia declining wool prices provide an opportunity to turn the tide. This case study places students in the role of advisor to an international NGO that h...

Retro Goes Modern
This case study considers the evolution of HIV from SIV, as well as the evolution of HIV within humans by mutation rate. It also discusses the immune evasion proteins NEF and VPU, and how anti-retroviral drugs act to stall viral replication. Finally, t...

Skinny Genes?
This case study introduces Megi, an active teenager who has recovered from anorexia nervosa.  The method of progressive disclosure is used to take students back in time as Megi recalls the physical and psychological aspects of her illness and t...

The Big Bad Wolf or Symbol of the American Wilderness?
Students enrolled in natural resource programs typically have classroom experience in science-based curricula with little exposure as to how to apply that science to real-life issues. This case study was designed to introduce students to understanding ...

The Challenge of Epilepsy
This case study was originally developed for undergraduate science students as part of an extracurricular competition, but it could also be delivered as a directed case. Accordingly two versions of the activity are included. Each version requires stude...

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 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 ...

To Be or Not To Be a Golf Course in Wimberley?
This interrupted case study examines the tensions that a small town in Texas faces between economic development and the preservation of a natural water resource for which the town is known. It highlights the interdependence and tensions between economi...

Vikings on Mars
Three experiments carried out by the Mars Viking landers in 1976 remain, to this day, our only attempt to detect life on another planet. All other efforts have looked for the presence of elements or conditions thought to be necessary for life rather th...