The Pink Eye of Death– A Medical Mystery

Your Mission

Step 1: Listen to Dr. Judy Melinek describe this baffling case from the link above (or read the transcript below):

Here’s the case: A 30-year-old man goes into an emergency room and complains of a headache and neck pain. He is sent home with ibuprofen and told that it is a tension headache. He returns a week later with red eyes (conjunctivitis), continued headache, neck pain and nausea. He dies in the hospital shortly after admission and the case is referred to the medical examiner, because the death is sudden and unexpected. The only significant medical history is that he had been shot in the face as a teenager and is blind in the right eye.

Autopsy findings: meningitis (pus infection of the brain) with Staphylococcus aureus (a bacteria that usually infects wounds), and pus extending to the gunshot wound tract and around the eyes (pink eye).

Source: Medical Mystery: The Pink Eye of Death from ScienceFriday

Additional information: The person who shot the victim 12 years ago was convicted of 1st degree assault and sentenced to mandatory 10 years in jail because a firearm was involved in the altercation.  This is a Class B felony under Alabama law. 

Step 2: Form your Forensic Investigation Team

Your Mission: It is up to your team to decide if this is a delayed homicide or a natural death and present your findings to the District Attorney to determine if charges will be brought against the person who originally shot the victim.

Your team is responsible for:

a. Developing a theory / hypothesis of what caused this man’s death (either delayed homicide or natural death). You must also provide a rationale (reasons) for your theory.

b. Designing an experiment to test the validity of your hypothesis

c. Evaluating the data from your experimental results

d. Creating a model to illustrate your theory & the results of your experiment

e. Drawing a conclusion that you will present to the District Attorney (in a Google Slides presentation) to determine if charges will be brought against the person who originally shot the victim.

Team Members & Responsibilities:

Team MemberJob DescriptionResponsibility
Lead Forensic Investigator1. Oversees project
2. Makes sure team responsibilities are followed & communicates w/teacher
3. Develops theory of cause of death
4. Provides rationale supporting theory for final report
Theory w/Rationale

Slides 4 & 7

Medical Examiner1. Performs autopsy
2. Researches medical issues associated with findings from autopsy
3. Interprets medical findings from autopsy
4. Provides analysis of medical findings for final report
Medical Examiner’s Report w/Analysis

Slide 3

Forensic Lab Technician1. Designs experiment
2. Carries out experiment to test theory
3. Helps create model to illustrate theory
4. Summarizes experiment methodology & findings for final report
Experiment Methodology w/Results

Slides 2 & 5

Evidence Collection Technician1. Records data from experiment
2.Takes careful notes during experiment
3. Creates a model to illustrate theory
4. Summarizes description of model for final report
Notes & Experimental Data w/Model

Slides 1 & 6

Step 3 Design & Perform an Experiment to Test Your Theory/ Hypothesis

Whatever your theory/ hypothesis (delayed homicide OR natural causes) about how the victim died, your team will need to design some sort of test which will give you scientific evidence (data) to either support or refute your assumption. You will evaluate your results and decide whether your theory is valid (based on the data) or if you need to go back and re-evaluate your original theory.

The Forensic Lab Technician and Evidence Collection Technician are primarily responsible for this part, however, EVERYONE should work as a team to share ideas and decide what kind of testing or experimentation would give you the information you need in order to prove (or disprove) your idea of what happened to this man.

Careful notes should be taken on the results of the testing because they will be included in the evidence which will be presented to the District Attorney.

It is possible that your evidence evaluation could be used in court by the DA if this case comes to trial. Be clear, concise, and explain things simply so that jurors of any background can easily understand the evidence and what it means.

Step 4 Create a Model to Illustrate Your Theory

Since juries (& most people, really) understand things more easily if they can visualize what you are talking about, your group is responsible for creating some kind of model to illustrate your theory of how he died. (Helpful tip- A 3 dimensional model would be an awesome way to represent the brain 🧠) You can use any materials you’d like, even paper or poster board. I have some supplies that I will gladly share with you.

Step 5 Presentation of Findings to the District Attorney

Your team will need to prepare a Google Slides presentation of your theory to present to the District Attorney. Since the evidence that you provide will potentially determine whether or not someone is charged with murder, it is important that your presentation is clear, concise, and persuasive.

Your presentation should include:

Slide #1– Title slide with your team members’ names and their job. (Completed by Evidence Technician)

Slide #2– Summary of the Case (Just the facts) (Completed by Forensic Lab Technician)

Slide #3– Medical Examiner’s Findings (Completed by Medical Examiner)

  • State what the autopsy showed. Use clear, understandable language. You must include a graphic/photo that represents the findings. Provide labels in your graphic/ photo so everyone can understand the complicated medical findings.

Slide #4– Your Theory and Rationale (show how the medical findings support your theory) (Completed by Lead Forensic Investigator)

  • State your theory. Should charges be brought for delayed murder or was it a natural death? Include the rationale (reasons) for your theory. Connect the medical findings to your theory. “Our theory is….. based on the following findings from the autopsy: 1…2…3…etc” Be exact with your words. Connect the theory and medical reasons clearly so someone from any background can see your reasoning.

Slide #5– Experiment Methodology & Results (Completed by Forensic Lab Technician)

  • Explain the experiment you performed on the victim in order to gather data. What did you do? Did you take tissue samples? Perform microscopic examination of samples? Etc. Tell what tests you did AND the results from those tests. Be clear and concise so jurors from all backgrounds could understand if this is used in court.

Slide #6– Description of your model (Completed by Evidence Technician)

  • Show a picture/ graphic AND explain the model you made to represent your theory. This would ideally be something that would be shown to jurors as the DA explained the case to them. It would be cool if your model was 3D but it could be a graphic of some sort. Be creative and neat but, above all, make sure it gets the idea across in a simple, clear way! Remember that if this happened to be shown to jurors, they wouldn’t understand the case the way you do. Be clear.

Slide #7– Conclusion/ Recommendation (Completed by Lead Forensic Investigator)

  • State the reasons why your theory is supported (or not supported) by the data from your experiment. What does your evidence recommend? Should the DA bring charges or not? Be persuasive in your evaluation of the evidence! Restate the theory, tell how your findings support/ refute this theory, DRAW A CONCLUSION, & make a recommendation to the DA (bring charges or not).

Note to Teachers:

I designed this activity for my Forensic Science students to “practice” skills related to using the scientific method. It is based on an actual case! Every science teacher knows that the scientific method isn’t a clear list of steps, but more of a logical way to approach the solution to a problem. This activity is designed to help students practice this logical approach. I never have my students “list” the steps of the scientific method. In fact, I feel these “steps” are fluid as theories/hypotheses are developed, then discarded or revised as results from tests or challenges demonstrate they aren’t the best fit.

I am doing this activity with my students this week (week before Spring Break so pray for me 😂😂). I only have 5 traditional, in-person students in my classroom (and 23 at home virtual). This will only be done with my in-person kids. I will post this project as a PDF download here as well as on my website under the Forensics tab. I will also post the forms I used and the rubric for grading so stay tuned to this space!

Update: I did this activity with my students today and they loved it! It only took us one block (90 min) and they were able to get everything done, including the Google slides part. The AP English teacher came in and played our District Attorney. She had a lot of good questions for them and they really had to be persuasive in their argument to convince her😊 I’ll definitely be using this activity again with my Forensics class next year.

To download a PDF of this activity, please click the link below or visit the RESOURCES section of my website.

Look for this badge on my website

Solution: Please visit this link and this one to see the actual results of this case.

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Need a Cute Activity for Valentine’s Day? Create an “Anatomically Correct” Valentine!! Now with UPDATED DIAGRAMS!


Need a Cute Valentine’s Day Activity?

How about Creating an Anatomically Correct Valentine Heart?

I developed this several years ago and always used it with my Anatomy and Physiology classes.  They loved it!  Some years, I had the students draw their hearts for the Valentine.  Often, many complained because they said they “couldn’t even draw a circle” (Sound familiar?) .  This year, I decided to put together a package to make it easier for them (and me).

How does this activity work?

I designed this activity to use 2 sheets of paper 1 sheet of paper copied front and back.  This is the interior:


This is the backside:


Copy the pages front & back then fold the sheet in half.  The anterior face of the heart should be on the front of the card and the posterior face of the heart should be on the back of the card. The inside of the card has the cross-section of the heart on the left hand side and a text box on the right side.  I always have my students create a rhyme, limerick, or haiku (related to the heart) for the inside of their card.  The outside can be trimmed closely to the heart shape, or left as a rectangle so a sentiment can be written on the outside as well.

I give points for creativity and following the prescribed instructions.  We usually do this activity a week or so before Valentine’s Day so we can decorate with them.  This year, we will probably just make them as an activity on Valentine’s Day.

Here are some examples of cute sayings I found online that could be used on the inside

This activity can also be used as a review for the parts of the heart if students are responsible for labeling the diagrams as well as creating the Valentines.

Here is the link to the Anatomically Correct Valentine Heart Activity in my TPT store:

Modifications to this Activity- 3Dimensional Heart

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 4.33.34 PM


Modifications to this Activity- 3Dimensional Heart

I also created a separate activity bundle of Oversized Diagrams (that also includes the Valentine activity) that can serve as a review for the parts of the heart.  The keys are included for labeling the diagrams.

Use as a 3D study tool

  • Color and label the external anterior and posterior surfaces of the heart
  • Color and label the internal cross-section view of the heart
  • Use in creating a Stop-Motion video
  • Use to trace the flow of blood through the heart (use red/blue arrows or yarn)
  • Use to review basic heart anatomy (keys to diagrams are included)

Flexible activity makes it easy to differentiate assignments!

Here is a link to the Oversized Heart Diagrams which includes the Valentine’s Activity in my TPT

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Burke and Hare– Real-Life Body Snatchers! Revamped for Distance Learning!

William Burke and William Hare– Real Life Body Snatchers!! Revamped for Distance Learning!! 

This Halloween, I’m going to spice up my Forensics class with a spooky study of real life murders and grave robbers!  William Burke, William Hare, and Dr. Knox are said to be the inspiration for the Robert Louis Stevenson short story “The Body Snatchers”.  My classes will be investigating these real life resurrectionists via my iBook on Burke and Hare. If you’d like to use it with your classes, it is published on my website at 

Within the published slide show, there is information on Burke an Hare, as well as Human Dissection.  It even contains the text for Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “The Body Snatcher” with a link to an audible reading of the text, as well as questions embedded within the story.

My students always love this really short unit.  Often, the Senior English teacher has my students studying “Frankenstein” at this time of the year and it makes a good correlation with this text.  Assessment will probably be done formally with a traditional quiz, but, I have also had my students write a short paper or essay comparing the real life case to the “Body Snatcher” short story.  It is a quick unit that my students always enjoy at this time of year.

Happy Halloween 🙂

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Need Help with Distance Learning? Check Out My Newest Anatomy and Physiology Slide Shows for Your Students (& Mine)!

How do I access the slide shows?

Visit my website at–p.html and click the “Slide Shows for A & P”. Choose your body system and the specific topic. It’s that simple!

Click Image to Visit My Website!

The best part??

The slide shows are published on my website so students (& YOU) can access them anywhere, on any device! Completely FREE! No more trying to juggle assigning a separate Powerpoint or Google Slides presentation on your LMS platform (and hoping students can get everything located and opened). You can even project it (or share your screen) to help you teach remotely.

I also used large colorful diagrams from my book to make it easy to locate and learn structures. No more struggling with tiny labels and a million leader lines on small Chrome books or phones.

One more thing….

These are the slide shows that I use to cover material with my A & P students in class so they might differ slightly from the material that you cover. I have included a list of things covered in each slide show. I generally teach 1 section of Honors A & P and several sections of General A & P. I have added in links to the videos I normally show in class, as well as links to my Quizlet decks my kids use for review.

I am adding the slide shows as I go through the A & P course this year. I am listing the companion fill-in-the-blank guided notes (in Google doc format) in my TpT store if that would be helpful to you (but the purchase is not required for the use of the slide shows).

I really hope that this small thing will be a blessing to you as we try to survive our new “normal” in schools. All the best to you this year!! 🙂 Dr.M

Visit my Website!
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Medical Mystery PBL for Anatomy & Physiology- Skeletal System

There’s Been A Massive Bus Crash and ALL Our Patients Were Onboard…. Oh NO!

My students get into ANY story~ That’s why they love our PBL projects! We are using our life-sized “stackable” patients throughout the year as they investigate a “mystery” specific to their patient for each body system. At the end, they will be evaluating all the health issues their patient has suffered from, and will diagnose their patient with a large scale disease or disorder (such as diabetes, sepsis, etc) which all of these issues had been symptoms of. These “mysteries” can also be standalone projects as well! For this body system, students had to deal with patient fractures from an imaginary bus crash. Unfortunately for the patient, there were also a couple of skeletal system issues (like gout, osteoporosis, etc) which were identified as they were x-rayed and treated in the ER.

Here’s what we did…

I created a Google slide presentation with the information about our project on it, published it to the web, then followed the link so my slide presentation was in a continuous loop while they were working. If you are curious, you can access a PDF of my Google Slide show here

The first class meeting, my students decided on their job (on the orthopedic team or the ER team), assembled the anterior and posterior skeletons, and labeled all the bones. They were given a Radiology Report specific to their patient that identified the fractures and types that their patient suffered.

Students completed the paperwork and drew the indicated fractures onto their skeletons. Then, they had to draw their patient’s x-rays (to scale). (I FINALLY found a use for the large amount of white colored pencils that I always seem to have left over every year! They are perfect for drawing on black bulletin board paper for x-rays of the bones).

Once they submitted their patient’s Medical Records to the Head ER Doc (aka Me lol), I gave them their ER Discharge Summary. Unfortunately, we found a couple of additional issues (such as osteoporosis, gout, etc) when we were doing the x-rays so all were referred to their family physicians to get these things managed.

Groups were asked to report on these additional “issues” in a debriefing session using either Google Slides or creating an Infographic (such as with For more information about using, see this blog post

To purchase this Medical Mystery Skeletal System PBL (including the basic blank anterior and posterior skeletons that we used), please visit my TpT Store at

If you’d like to purchase the complete set of life-sized bodies we are using, please visit my TpT store at

Individual body systems (& the big bodies that go with them) can also be purchased separately.

Like My Large Diagrams and Teaching Materials?? Need Something New for Your Anatomy & Physiology Classes?

Want a Fun and Engaging Way to Review the Basic Concepts of Anatomy & Physiology? Check Out My NEW Book—Available on Amazon (and in Bookstores 🙂 400+ pages!!

To purchase on Amazon, please click HERE

Contains affiliate link

Posted in activity, Anatomy & Physiology, Anatomy Practicals- Stackables that Teach, Project Based Learning PBL, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Book is Available NOW!

This comprehensive coloring review guide offers anyone interested in Anatomy and Physiology a fun, effective way to learn.  Each chapter features diagrams for coloring, as well as review and sketch note pages for a more interactive way to master difficult concepts.  Written by a veteran anatomy and physiology teacher and a registered critical care nurse, this reference is perfect for nursing students, pre-med students, or any student in the health science field.

A truly innovative approach to learning about the human body!

  • Contains over 400 pages of material organized by body systems
  • Includes 142 hand-drawn illustrations and diagrams for visual learners
  • Offers workbook pages for self-testing
  • Provides guides for histology drawings and extra vocabulary aides in a bonus section
  • Delivers fun facts and study tips via original character Dr. L. Rat

Available on Amazon NOW– To purchase, please visit this link (affiliate link)

It should be available in bookstores by Christmas!

Published in conjunction with Lab Rat Press

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Medical Mystery PBL for Anatomy & Physiology- Integumentary System

Let’s Investigate Our Patient’s Diagnosis….

For our study of the Integumentary System in our Medical Mystery PBL, I told the students that their patient had visited his/her family doctor and had been tentatively diagnosed with an unusual skin disorder. I prepared a Dermatology Report for each of the patients (there are 7 patients in each class). See a sample below:

Sample Patient Report

Their job as a specialist medical team was to investigate the disorder and confirm (or not) the diagnosis of the family doctor. I provided them with 2 viable research links for their particular disorder. They also had to create a 1 page infographic about the disorder that they could use to educate the patient’s family about the condition. (We used – For more information or instructions on using, please visit this blog post They were also allowed to choose a job within the 4 person team.

They also had to construct both the anterior and posterior views of their patient, color the basic diagram of the skin, hair, and nail, as well as color their patient’s “symptoms” in that they were given in the Dermatology Report. Here are some samples:

At the conclusion of the PBL, the medical teams were expected to present their findings to a medical panel and confirm (or disagree with) the diagnosis of the family doctor.

To purchase this Medical Mystery Integumentary System PBL (including the basic blank anterior and posterior bodies that we used), please visit my TpT Store at

If you’d like to purchase the complete set of life-sized bodies we are using, please visit my TpT store at

Individual body systems (& the big bodies that go with them) can also be purchased separately.

Posted in activity, Anatomy & Physiology, Anatomy Practicals- Stackables that Teach, Project Based Learning PBL, Sketch Notes, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newsflash—Publication Date is Getting Closer!

In case you haven’t heard…

Our book has been submitted for publication and should be available within the next few weeks! My daughter (a trauma nurse) and I have collaborated to create a comprehensive, student-friendly (and teacher-friendly) 400 page review guide with TONS of easy-to-color illustrations and diagrams. I even include some of my students’ favorite Sketch Notes! More information (and more pictures of what is included) will be coming soon but for now, here is a little sneak peek of what you’ll see…..

Large, clear, easy to color diagrams and illustrations..Many are full page sized! For teachers, these copy beautifully for use with your class since the lines are bold. For students, the diagrams focus in on the most important structures that you need to learn.

Here’s an example after it has been colored…..

The guide is arranged by body system and includes several pages of text for each one (and for many of the important physiological processes). Perfect for review or, if you’re a teacher, awesome for concise notes to provide for your class that will make differentiation easy!

Includes Sketch Notes!

My students love Sketch Notes me always tell me how helpful they are in visualising difficult concepts so I included them for most every chapter (especially for the feedback mechanisms). Here are some examples..

My students always have trouble with this feedback mechanism (renin/ angiotensin) ..

Finally, the end of the book has a Bonus Section with student study aids including a large 2page Skeleton (anterior and posterior) that is perfect for practice.

The whole review is guided by Dr. L. Rat who provides study tips and easy to remember mnemonics and concise pathways for processes.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Wound Lab for the Integumentary System

What do you get when you cross petroleum jelly, food coloring/fake blood, toilet tissue, and cocoa powder? A fun, engaging lab activity for your Integumentary System unit, of course!

My students sometimes think studying the Integumentary System can be a little boring so this year we tried something different– We created gross, realistic looking wounds to explore wound healing.

First Step: Easy Video Instructions

We watched this video before going into the lab. I think it does an excellent job of explaining the process. It also helped my students visualize what the process looked like.

In the Lab:

Students worked in partners and were given a choice of locations for the wound they were to create on their partner. There were 6 location choices (on arms and legs only) that were written using anatomical directional terms. For example, “the wound was inferior to the antecubital region of the right arm and superior to the phalanges”. They also had a choice of wound lengths. Their lab sheet also asked them what stage of wound healing their wound was in currently. When I checked the lab groups, they had to tell me exactly which wound (location and size) they created. I think it really helped them practice the anatomical terminology in a practical setting.

Here are some addition photos of our “wounds”

The students LOVED it!! (and some really got creative). I’ll definitely be doing this again next year!

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Medical Mystery PBL For Anatomy & Physiology- DAY 2

Body Cavities & Membranes- The topic for Day 2!

On day 1 of this year-long PBL, my Anatomy & Physiology classes did “Patient Intake” where they filled out all the necessary paperwork for their “patient” and assembled the anterior (ventral) body. Day 2 consisted of assembling the posterior (dorsal) body and investigating body cavities and membranes. (Just and FYI- I remembered I had a paper cutter after all my classes had finished assembling their anterior bodies. So, I trimmed their posterior sheets before class and everything went MUCH faster! ). Groups who finished before others worked on providing their patient’s “back story” (a snapshot of their patient’s life- like being a middle-aged smoker, being a long distance runner, etc… I plan to use this info to help me provide them a medical condition for their patient that they will investigate as we cover all the body systems).

It’s important to be vigilant as you put together your patient or it might end up a little “different” from the others 🙂 HAHA!

To begin, we had a class “refresher” on the basic body cavities and the membranes (parietal and visceral). They had already written down notes on this (I put my PPT on Google classroom and gave them fill-in-the blank outline notes to complete independently). I used a partially blown up balloon to illustrate how the visceral membrane clings to each organ (ie my hand as I stuck it in the balloon) and the outside of the balloon would illustrate the membrane attached to the body cavity. I let them pass the balloon around and try it for themselves (they loved it lol).

I provided students with a 1 page summary of the body cavities and membranes and a guided organizer to assist them in “color coding” their patient’s body cavities and membranes. (Body cavities were 1 color; Membranes were represented as an outline of a different color- Just a note: Colored pencils are best for coloring the body cavities and markers (the big Crayola school ones) make outlining the membranes a breeze!

Here are some pics of our patients.

How am I Storing the “Patients”?

After color-coding both the anterior (ventral) and posterior (dorsal) surfaces of our patients, we aligned them back-to-back (with the taped surfaces facing towards each other and the colored surfaces facing outwards) and taped them at with small pieces of tape on all 4 sides. This will be the foundation for the entire “patient” just as our body cavities are. Patient names (that match their Medical Records) and the names of the Medical Team members are written on the anterior surface. For storage, I stacked all the patients for 1 class (I have 7 groups of 4 in each of my 4 A & P classes) and used 3 large binder clips to hold them. Currently, I have them lying flat on my counter, but I am thinking of buying clothes hangers with clips so I could hang them up in my classroom.

What’s Next?

I am not utilizing this project every day as we go through the A & P course. I am also doing other activities. At the end of this past week, I set up lab stations and we reviewed for our Unit 1 exam next week. I pulled some of my activities from the Gallery Walk we did last year (see my blog post on this at this link–> Gallery Walk blog post ) and I think it worked well. Our next topic with our “patients” will be the Integumentary System where we will learn the layers of the epidermis, the structure of skin, as well as hair, and nails. You can see some of these diagrams at this link –>Integumentary System blog post ).

To see ALL of the 11 body systems this includes, please visit for links to all!

To purchase, please visit my TpT store

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