Activities for middle school students to sleuth a chemistry "whodunit" and investigate the scientific method

Audrey F. Meyer, Cassandra M. Knutson, Solaire A. Finkenstaedt-Quinn, Sarah M. Gruba, Ben M. Meyer, John W. Thompson, Melissa A. Maurer-Jones, Sharon Halderman, Ayesha S. Tillman, Lizanne Destefano, Christy L. Haynes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The recent increased public interest in forensic science, sparked in part by television shows such as CSI and Bones, presents an opportunity for science educators to engage students in forensic chemistry-themed activities to introduce fundamental concepts, such as the scientific method. In an outreach setting, mysteries were used as a way to engage middle school students to select forensics tests, form hypotheses, make observations while conducting the tests, consider positive and negative controls, and use the results to reach conclusions. Student data shows that the outreach activities generally increase student understanding of the scientific method. These activities have been translated from outreach activities into accessible activities for middle and high school classrooms.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)410-413
    Number of pages4
    JournalJournal of Chemical Education
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Mar 11 2014


    • Analytical Chemistry
    • Elementary/Middle School Science
    • Forensic Chemistry
    • High School/Introductory Chemistry
    • Laboratory Instruction
    • Problem Solving/Decision Making
    • Public Understanding/Outreach

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Chemistry
    • Education


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