This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop entitled Selected Cases at Beloit College in June 1999. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Got Milk?

Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. -- Release edited by Mary Savage Thursday, August 14, 1997

Legal Settlement Clears Way For National Anti-rBGH Label

Past Refusals by the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago had Created a National Ban on Labeling; Settlement Ends First Amendment Lawsuit by Ben & Jerry's Homemade, The Organic Valley - Family of Farms, Stonyfield Farm and Whole Foods Market

South Burlington, VT --Manufacturers of ice cream, yogurt and other dairy products who use milk and cream produced without the controversial growth hormone rBGH can now say so on their labels.
Under the terms of an unprecedented legal settlement announced today, the State of Illinois has agreed to permit such voluntary labeling by natural food companies opposed to rBGH. Since 1994 Illinois has forbidden Ben & Jerry's, Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm from adding anti-rBGH labels to their products

"The use of bio-engineered growth hormones in dairy cows is inconsistent with everything we stand for. This settlement is a great victory for Ben & Jerry's, for our family farmers, and most of all, for our customers" said Perry Odak, the CEO of Ben and Jerry's Homemade Inc. who himself grew up on a dairy farm.

The use of rBGH on dairy cows was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 1993 and has been in use since 1994. When rBGH gets injected into dairy cows, milk production increases by as much as 10-15%. The agency did not require foods containing rBGH to be so labeled, as in the case for irradiated foods, another controversial technology. Instead it allowed voluntary labeling.

rBGH Story: More Bad News for Monsanto
New York Times January 19, 1999

Synthetic Hormone in Milk Raises New Concerns

It was the confluence of two important events that made Carol Baxter start buying organic milk about five and a half years ago. Her oldest daughter had just turned 1 and soon would move from breast milk to cow's milk. And American dairy farmers had just received approval to inject their cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone, a genetically engineered hormone that increases milk production.

Ms. Baxter, who lives in Palisades, N.Y., knew of environmental groups' claims that treated cows got more infections and needed more antibiotics, which could then enter their milk. And she learned that some scientists had raised the possibility of an increased cancer risk in people who drank the milk. "Milk is such an important part of a child's diet," she said. "I didn't want my child to be a guinea pig."

The Food and Drug Administration has long dismissed such concerns. In the journal Science in 1990, two agency scientists concluded that "no toxicologically significant changes" were seen in rats that ingested the hormone. The agency's approval of the hormone in 1993 rested on the strength of that 90-day rat study, which was commissioned by Monsanto, the manufacturer.

Case Author:
Mark Albrecht University of Nebraska at Kearney
Roy Mosher University of Illinois at Springfield
Mary Savage Edgewood College

Case Analysis

Lecture period includes a discussion

Small groups come to consensus about whether they would drink rBGH and why.

See Investigations and Activities

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


See Investigations and Activities



Investigations and Activities

Part 1. Getting started...

Preparing students for this type of unit

Early units have more simplistic and structure as an introduction to inquiry-based exercises

Basic communication skills, written and presentation are addressed

Methods for peer-review have been introduced


Terms and concepts pertinent to the Case Study have been introduced. In this case, DNA, genes, chromosomes, and other fundamentals of the biotech industry

rBGH Case Study

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone case study materials introducing the issue given in lab

Materials include:

Our written case study – fictional?
Articles from current news items, books, etc…
Props such as milk bottle caps

Allow students to work on case studies without direction

Why is it made?
How is it made?
List terms and phrases
What is its effect on cows?

Structure in Lab

1. AVERY Simulation


What is the hereditary material?
Historical understanding of experiments isolating DNA
Understanding of transformation procedure
Lab techniques and components
Connection with ongoing lecture material
Students must formulate a hypothesis

Students can run tests as many times as needed . . . so

Have them document predictions
Work in groups – come to consensus about what is happening
Give class presentation on simulation
Peer review as part of grading – some questions
What are the specific predictions of each group?
What does a particular enzyme do?

2. Wet Lab with GFP

Green Fluorescence Protein (pGLO)Can be purchased from BioRAD

Begins one lab session, finish the next

Goals of Lab Introduction
Sterile techniques
Streaking plates
Metric System review

Doing the transformation
Before leaving (cells incubating) groups submit predictions

Following lab session

See the result of their work

Write individual lab reports

Why did some cells grow in certain cultures?
Why did some cells glow green?
Why did cells on plate w/o antibiotic not glow?



American Scientist “How to write a scientific paper” in Animal
Behavior Collection

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items

1. milk.JPG
2. image34.gif
3. milklbl.jpg
4. temp.jpg
5. unit1.jpg
6. unit2.jpg
7. unit3.jpg
8. milklbl.jpg
9. avery1.JPG
10. lid1.jpg


Student Products

Case Study - Group paper (1 – 2 pages)

Our primary goal was to assemble a unit for Introductory Biology using some of the techniques highlighted at BioQUEST. Our topic is biotechnology, but the template of the unit is the larger objective. NOTE: This is not an example of pure inquiry-based, case-driven learning, however, we felt for introductory students and our situations this hybrid approach was best.

See Assessment

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

Structure of paper
Question addressed
[optional] Allow groups to turn in paper more than once

Questions from this work can be included on lecture or lab tests later in the semester.

Make explicit statement that inquiry-learning can be used in other contexts on their own.



Course name:
Intro biology
Likely sequence in syllabus:
During genetics
Time during term:
Two weeks
Classroom and Lab
Students in course:
Collaborative elements:
Group work
Additional notes:
Revised case model



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