Examples of iCons Case Studies

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Source page URL: https://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/ <several pages>
URL redirect: _ not required  √ needed  _ created
File attachements: _ needed  √ migrated
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  1. Redirects from:
    1. http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/top-ten-scientific-achievements
    2. http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/cholera-in-haiti
    3. http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/aluminum-and-alzheimers
    4. http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/the-gulf-oil-spill-where-did-the-...
    5. http://www.cns.umass.edu/icons-program/oil-to-biofuels
      Each with their own file attachments
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Top Ten Scientific Achievements

What are the top 10 scientific acheivements?

This brief case study served as an introduction to iCons and began our semester with intense discussion and debate. Was the discovery of Calculus a scientific achievement? Should the atom bomb be on the list? What about learning to make fire? Discovery of penicillin?

In teams, students were asked to develop a list of what they considered to be the top ten scientific achievement. Each team then shared their list with the class, and as a whole, the class had to compile a list of the top ten scientific achievements. The goal of this case study is to help students clarify what they believe is a scientific achievement and to assign value to it based on societal (or other) impact.

To view the lesson plan, download the attached document:

Top 10 Scientific Achievements

Cholera in Haiti

At the beginning of the Spring 2011 semester, Haiti was in the midst of an enormous cholera outbreak (and still is as of June, 2012). This led us to ask our students a question: What can science do to help?

The goal of this assignment is to develop a scientific solution to the problem, and in the process, learn about how to generate a scientific question, different types of experiments and studies, and about the difference between a societal and scientific problem.

To view the lesson plan, download the attached document:

Cholera in Haiti

Aluminum and Alzheimer's

Is there a correlation between consumption of aluminum and Alzheimer's disease? How do you determine if two things are correlated? How do you determine a cause and effect relationship?

This case study compared a scientific paper with a popular media story, leading to research and discussion about correlation vs. causation, hypothesis testing, how to read and interpret a scientific paper, and how science is portrayed in popular media.

To view the lesson plan, download the attached document:

Alzheimers and Aluminum

The Gulf Oil Spill - Where did the oil go?

The April, 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. While the beaches of Gulf states such as Louisiana were innundate with crude oil, much of the oil never reached dry land. This begs the question, what happened to all that oil?

This case study begins by exploring how the oil spill was portrayed in the popular media, transitioning into the question of what happens to oil (or any molecule) in the environment? Students consider the fundamental scientific principles at play, educate each other on these principles, and using that knowledge alongside data from primary literature sources, create a way to determine the rate at which oil will decay in a particular environment.

To view the lesson plan, download the attached document:

The Gulf Oil Spill

Oil to Biofuels

A great follow-up to the Gulf Oil Spill case study! This case study examines where our fuels come from, how they are used, and what renewable sources are acceptable replacements.

Students research the positive and negative consequences of numerous biofuels, pick what they consider to be the most promising, and prepare a report that shows how science and society could replace a quantity of fossil fuels with this biofuel.

To view the lesson plan, download the attached document:

Oil to Biofuels

Final project: Create your own case study

The final project of iCons I in 2011 was for student teams to create their own case study, to be used in next year's iCons I class. Given the structure of an iCons case study, it was up to them to create a project for future students. Case studies on topics such as deforestation and Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant were developed.

To view the assignment, download the attached document:

Create your own case study