Mystery Festival

Grades 2—8

Written by Kevin Beals and Carolyn Willard

This exciting and popular GEMS Festival Teacher's Guide features two imaginative and compelling mysteries, one for younger and one for older students. Each mystery allows for layers of detection, from the simplest to the more involved, to allow for several grade levels' participation.

Mystery Festival uses a classroom learning-station format; students study the "crime scene," then conduct crime-lab tests on the evidence, analyze the results, and try to solve the mystery. These forensic science activities absorb students from the start and keep them intensely involved throughout.

This unit explores many key content areas and emphasizes the important distinction between evidence and inference. The many crime-lab procedures include thread tests, powder tests, DNA comparison, chromatography, and fingerprinting. Mystery Festival combines fun and excitement with careful experimentation, logical thinking, and real-life connections to forensic science. As the fascinating correlation between science and detective work become clear, students absorb processes that will be useful in all disciplines.

The guide is specially bound for ease in copying the many station signs, data sheets, footprint graphics, and assorted other mysterious clues.

Time: Five 45- to 60-minute sessions for each mystery.

NSTA Recommends   Mystery Festival
"This is another great product from the Lawrence Hall of Science, so all of the activities have been extensively field tested across the country. Holding a mystery takes extensive preparation, but Mystery Festival provides detailed handouts, checklists, and very specific instructions for teachers and students…Humor abounds… Background information on forensic science, chromatography, and DNA fingerprinting will prepare teachers for student questions… The time spent setting this up will have a big payoff when the whole school is abuzz with talk about the mystery!"
—National Science Teachers Association Recommends

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Literature Connections

Spanish Language Student Materials:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

What materials are needed to present this unit? See the full list.

ISBN: Grade Level Format Price



10 Sessions
(5 per mystery),
268 pages


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