ScienceWorks: Crime Lab Caper (5th-8th)
Someone has broken into the Museum van and stolen a laptop! Become Museum detectives and use forensic science and real lab techniques to analyze evidence to crack the case. Register today!
Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, Science v.1.09
- Use tools and equipment (spring scales, stop watches, meter sticks and tapes, models, hand lens, thermometer, models, sieves, microscopes) appropriate to scientific investigations. (S.IP.06.13)
- Identify patterns in data. (S.IP.06.16; S.IP.07.16)
- Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of claims, arguments, and data. (S.RS.07.11)
- Use tools and equipment (spring scales, stop watches, meter sticks and tapes, models, hand lens, thermometer, models, sieves, microscopes, hot plates, pH meters) appropriate to scientific investigations. (S.IP.07.13)
Crime Lab Caper Pre-visit Materials
During Your Visit to the ScienceWorks Lab students will be expected to:
- Sit in tables of 6 students and (at least) 1 adult
- Students should be prepared to give their attention to the Lab instructors when requested to “Give Me Five”
- Work cooperatively with one another at the table
- Follow the hands-on procedures just as the Lab teacher or assistant explains them
- Handle materials and equipment carefully
It is important that teachers and chaperones:
- Help to focus the students’ attention
- Assist students with the hands-on activities and experiments when necessary
- Turn off cell phones and pagers during the class
Fiber Analysis: Fiber analysis is a method of investigation that uses natural or synthetic fibers found at the scene of a crime. When looked at under a microscope, different kinds of fibers have very different structures. If investigators find fibers from a crime scene that match fibers from something that belongs to a criminal suspect, they can link that suspect to the scene.
Fingerprint Analysis: Fingerprint analysis is a method of identification that uses fingerprint patterns. Each individual’s fingerprints are unique. They differ from person to person based on distinctive patterns of ridges. If prints found at the scene of a crime match prints taken from a criminal suspect, investigators know that that suspect came in contact with that evidence.
Forensic Science: Forensic science is the practice of using science and scientific techniques to solve crimes.
Paper Chromatography: Paper chromatography is a method of separating the mixtures of chemicals, such as those that make up ink.
Blood Type: Human blood is divided into 4 types based on what type of antigens are on the red blood cells. The types are A, B, AB, and O.
Shoeprint analysis: Shoeprint analysis is a method of identification based on looking at the wear patterns on footwear. Shoeprints are often found at crime scenes and they can be compared to suspects shoes to look for a match.
Crime Lab Caper Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities will help reiterate new concepts and tie the ScienceWorks Lab experience to your classroom curriculum. Below you will find a classroom activity and a list of suggested resources for further information. We hope that you enjoyed your field trip. Visit us again!
Extend your experience with the Crime Lab Caper into other areas of your curriculum by trying one or more of the following ideas:
- Using the Crime Lab Data Sheets completed at the Museum, have small groups of students work together to make graphs and/or charts to represent the data they collected.
- Have students make up their own mysteries alone or in small groups. Mysteries might be written as short stories or as plays to perform for the class.
- Take your class on a field trip to a local crime lab, or invite a police detective, forensic scientist, or person in a related occupation to come to class, make a brief presentation and answer student questions about their work. Ask the presenter to explain the scientific basis for what they do.
- Encourage students to read mysteries — literature that stimulates logical thinking processes and problem solving skills can extend the learning done in the rime Lab class to mathematics, language arts, social studies and other areas.
Butler, William Vivian. The Kid Detective Handbook. Little, Brown & Company, Boston, MA. 1995.
Walker, Pam and Elaine Wood. Crime Scene Investigations: Real-Life Science Activities for the Elementary Grades. The Center for Applied Research in Education. West Nyack, NY. 1999.
Walker, Pam and Elaine Wood. Crime Scene Investigations: Real-Life Science Activities for Grades 6–12. The Center for Applied Research in Education. West Nyack, NY. 1999.