Fifth Grade Crime Solvers, at the Ready

  • Learning
Annika Gostomski, Lower Division Science Teacher

Now in its third year, the 5th grade crime scene investigation project not only brought wrongdoers to justice but also tied into the broader themes of their work in World Course, reading workshop and art. Various themes of identity that they have explored in these courses – personal, social, cultural – also played into their science project as they methodically worked to match physical evidence at a crime scene to the personal identities of their suspects.

Processing a crime scene
Processing a crime scene

Before the project began, students spent many days learning the methods and practicing the skills used by forensic scientists to analyze all kinds of identity markers such as hair color and fingerprint patterns to DNA sequences and handwriting styles. Soon their training and critical thinking skills were being called upon to solve one of several mysteries, such as the Case of the Kidnapped Python, the Case of the Stolen Laptop, the Case of the Deadly Cafeteria Food and the particularly dreadful Case of the Hidden Body.

Processing a crime scene
Processing a crime scene
Processing a crime scene

Over the course of several weeks, students put their individual strengths together and worked in teams to collect evidence and identify the criminal from a list of possible suspects. They had to observe and carefully document the entire crime scene so as not to disrupt the evidence in any way. As these scientists know, overlooking one small piece of evidence could cost them the entire case. They also had to use the appropriate tools and safety gear for the task at hand – microscopes, cameras, fingerprinting powder, tweezers and rubber gloves – in order to gather their evidence and get to work on their analysis.

Processing a crime scene
Processing a crime scene

From matching shoe prints and handwriting samples to those in the suspects’ online database of files, to decoding a secret message encrypted in binary code found at the scene, teams remained busy for the duration of the project trying to narrow down their suspect list based on any matches of the evidence.  Sometimes more than one suspect had sufficient evidence to link them to the crime and teams were forced to consider if they could have enlisted an accomplice to pull it off.  Skills such as communication and teamwork along with critical and creative thinking became crucial to the success of the project.

Thanks to our dedicated and tireless student investigators working for the Avenues Bureau of Investigation, not only have the culprits of these mysterious crimes been apprehended, but our 5th grade students are now more well-versed in the complex science of discovering one’s true identity.

Working with the evidence
Working with the evidence
Working with the evidence

 

  • 5th Grade
  • Lower Division
  • science
  • STEM