In this project, students are presented with the problem that some cats are losing their fur and that it seems to be an auto immune disorder, where the cat's immune system is attacking the fur cells. Students then use their knowledge of the immune system to hypothesize what might be malfunctioning in the immune system to cause this loss of fur. Then, based on their hypothesis, they engineer a treatment that would successfully treat the disorder. (See rubric for specific details.)
This project really forced my students to understand the cells of the immune system and how self is recognized from non-self. It also tapped into their creativity, as they were able to create any kind of realistic treatment and build a model of how it would work. For the model, I provided clay, pipe cleaners, balloons and markers. However, I told students that they could use any materials. This is a challenging project, but my students really liked it! It's a great summative assessment for the immune system.
One note of caution: I did have students check with me on their hypotheses before they moved on to the treatment, as I wanted to check in with them as to whether or not it made sense. Please email me if you have any questions!