Outline how alterations at the chemical level cause complications at the organismal level.

In the Case Assignments for this course, you will learn many of the theories of biological science as you learn about current events in the living world around you.  In your first Case Assignment, you will watch the following videos to learn about an important environmental event that occurred in 2010 and has had long-lasting effects.

First, watch:  Deepwater BP Oil Spill – Assessing the Damage Restoring the Coast

Next, watch:  Shoreline Assessment Webisode at

http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/media-center/videos/

Your Assignment:

In the wake of the Deepwater BP Oil Spill, you have been assigned to the Shoreline Assessment Team introduced in this video.  You are employed as a junior member of the team responsible for gathering facts and presenting them to the team.  For Module 1 you will explain the findings summarized here:

https://woods.stanford.edu/news-events/news/oil-causes-heart-problems-fish

You will develop a report for your team to present to stake-holders in the restoration of the Gulf Coast, including members of BP Oil Corporation.  You must assume that these individuals are NOT scientists, and that the relevance of oil within an aquatic environment must be explained to them.  You will present the evidence that oil causes physiological damage to vertebrates at the cellular level.  Design a PowerPoint presentation to this group that includes:

An introduction that

  • [Slide 1] Provides a brief background of the Deepwater BP Oil Spill.  Include the date, the extent of the spill, and the partnerships working together to address the crisis.
  • [Slide 2] Outlines the three steps in the damage assessment.
  • [Slide 3]  Explains your role in this assessment (be creative, but stay within the guidelines of the scenario above and the parameters of Assessment Teams explained in the videos).

Now explain the results of one of the studies conducted to assess the effect of oil on ocean life, summarized in this article: https://woods.stanford.edu/news-events/news/oil-causes-heart-problems-fish.  To develop your explanation, include:

  • [Slide 4] A diagram of a hydrocarbon. Explain its relevance to oil in the notes section of the slide.
  • [Slide 5] A labeled diagram of an animal cell.  Label the following:  cell membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm, mitochondria, ribosomes, and endoplasmic reticulum.  Provide a brief definition of each in the notes section.  Review the tour of the animal cell and refer to this labeled diagram of an animal cell.
  • [Slide 6] A labeled diagram of a phospholipid bilayer, AKA the fluid mosaic model of the cell membrane.  Click on the link to review the structure and function of the phospholipid bilayer that makes up the cell membrane.   Include a brief discussion of the molecules that make up phospholipids and how water facilitates the arrangement of the phospholipid bilayer (Hint:  the terms “hydrophobic” and “hydrophilic” are important).

Muscle cells have a specialized cell membrane called the sarcolemma with specialized channels that allow the ions sodium, Na+, and potassium, K+, to pass, generating an electrical current that signals contractions.   Muscle cells in the heart are very similar to the muscle cells that make up your skeletal muscles (Comparison of skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscle).  The specialized membrane on cardiac cells makes the heart cell contract similar to skeletal muscle cells, and when coordinated with other heart cells, the contractions push blood out of the heart and throughout the body.

  • [Slide 7] Include a labeled diagram of a heart cell using this link to help you label the following structures:  sarcolemma, ion channels, ions responsible for signaling contraction, protein microfibrils that interact to facilitate contraction.  Provide a brief definition of each in the notes section.

Next review the steps of muscle contraction:

1)     Events at the neuromuscular junction

2)     Excitation-contraction coupling

3)     Crossbridge cycle

These videos illustrate the steps that occur for skeletal muscle cells, which are very similar to cardiac, heart, muscle cells which contract in a very similar way.

  • [Slide 8] Now outline how alterations at the chemical level cause complications at the organismal level:  How does crude oil interrupt heart cell signaling and overall heart cell function?  What does this do to the fish?
  • [Slide 9] An outline of the research techniques used in this study, including brief description of each technique.

Don’t forget a references Slide that documents the sites you used to complete the assignment!

Assignment Expectations

The Case Assignment is a written description of a problem or situation. Most cases are a “snapshot” of a particular situation within a complex environment.  For this Case Assignment you will develop a PowerPoint Presentation that is 10-15 slides in length and addresses the requirements outlined above.  Be sure your last slide is a references slide.

The purpose of the Case Assignments in this course is to place the student in a position that will require research, synthesis of information, and critical thought. The student will be asked to distinguish pertinent facts from peripheral facts, identify central alternatives among several issues competing for attention, and formulate strategies and recommendations. This method provides an opportunity to sharpen problem-solving skills and to improve the ability to think and reason rigorously.

Your essay is considered a scholarly work.  You will be provided with many scholarly references to begin each assignment.  For any additional research you are required to do to complete your assignment, please use scholarly references such as a peer- reviewed journal article or a government sponsored or university sponsored website.  As you read through your sources, take notes from your sources and then write your paper in your own words, describing what you have learned from your research.  Direct quotes should be limited and must be designated by quotation marks.  Paraphrased ideas must give credit to the original author, for example (Murray, 2014).   Direct copying from “homework help” websites will not receive credit.

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