My husband in college took a forensic anthropology class so we determined that he would be the "Sergeant" for this case. Having a 3rd, 7th, and 9th grader, we determined that they could work as a team. My eldest would be the 'lead detective' and the others would be the 'under detectives' for this crime investigation.
The entire book is "A Whodunnit Forensic Mystery" that is broken into 3 parts - teacher instructions, forensic evidence lessons, and then the crime scene reports and forms. There is also a brief synopsis on how the investigation works which is super helpful. I also felt the Teacher Instructions were invaluable of how to set the scene and what forms to give out at first so you can get your student(s)/group going and then based on their on discussion and research they can decide the path their investigation will proceed.
After reading through all the teacher helps (which include step-by-step instructions as well as a checklist for the handouts) you will move to the lessons. There are 7 areas of forensic evidence that they will need to be taught in order to really be able to delve into the examination of the crime. These areas are:
- anthropology (study of skeletal remains),
- arson (intentional setting of fire to house, buildings, or property)
- ballistics (study of projectiles in motion as it applies to a criminal investigation)
- counterfeit money (imitation or fake money made without the approval of the government)
- death scene investigation (the who, how, when and where of the death as determined by a forensic entomologist, medical examiner, or pathologist)
- document and handwriting analysis (experts who examine to determine authenticity)
- fingerprints (unique to each person and consistent over a lifetime)
We decided to split these areas up into a few sessions and did like 2/day over a 2 week period. That gave time for them to listen to the info, take notes if they wanted, and to ask questions and really kind of absorb the information. This would allow them to apply this knowledge to different parts of the case as they encountered them.
Since it is summer and because the "Sergeant" has a way different summer schedule, we decided to only work on the case for a few hours 2/3 days a week. They have spent probably close to 8 hours are so working on this over the last few weeks. They are ALMOST at the point where I believe they will be charge someone with the crime(s). So, in total, I think they will spend about 10 to 12 hours. I have forewarned them that there is a possibility that the case will not be all nice and tidy and tied with a bow at the end ... that there will be loose ends like in a real investigation. After we "end" we will also take some time to 'debrief' to talk about the path their investigation took and the deducting skills they used to reason what to do next throughout the case. This is also how we can see how much they retained from the beginning lessons.
We have so really enjoyed this case study, which is geared for 5th - 12th. It was certainly challenging. I think this would be fun to do as a large group camp/VBS like project where you could break it up with lessons the first 2 days and the last 3 work as detective groups to solve the crime(s). I know that we will use this again ... maybe next summer!
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