Fecal Coliforms in Antarctica
University of Wisconsin-Stout
In this interrupted case study, students explore the environmental consequences of Antarctic research as they design experiments to assess the impact of disposing untreated sewage from a research station into the ocean. Students review experimental methods to measure coliform bacteria, examine data, and decide what actions, if any, should be taken. The case can be used in either a non-majors course in science literacy or a general microbiology class studying bacterial detection methods. For non-majors, the instructor would emphasize the mechanics of data collection and analysis and may touch on the environmental implications of finding fecal coliforms in Antarctic waters. For microbiology students, the instructor would highlight the bacteriology and pair the case with a lab.
- Learn about experimental design (appropriate use of controls, data collection, data interpretation).
- Understand how scientific data inform policy makers.
- Learn about fecal coliform detection methods.
- Raise environmental awareness.
KeywordsMicrobes; coliforms; fecal coliform; enteric bacteria; sewage; growth media; sampling protocol; experimental design; McMurdo Sound; Antarctica; Greenpeace
Topical AreasEthics, Policy issues, Scientific method
Educational LevelHigh school, Undergraduate lower division
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Interrupted
Subject HeadingsMicrobiology | Biology (General) | Science (General) |