The Case of the Mystery Fish Toxin involves student teams taking on the role of investigators whose job it is to save the life of a victim involved in an accident with toxic fish venom. The scenario is presented to students, along with profiles on the five possible “culprit” fishes and their associated venoms. Students narrow down the possible fish venoms to two and then run an ELISA simulation test to determine which venom was accidentally injected into the victim. ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) is a common laboratory technique used to test blood serum for antibodies against disease-causing agents.
After identifying the venom, teams determine the antivenom to administer to the victim. Each team’s findings, rationale, and conclusions are then presented in the form of an evidence board and oral presentation. Students also make the connection between this project and systems biology: looking at the cellular level (effect of toxins on living cells) in order to understand the effect that toxins have on the functioning of the organism.
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