Crime Lab Chemistry
Written by Jacqueline Barber
Poirot never had it this good. In this
unit's prime scenario, pegging the pen used to write a ransom
note comes down to chromatography, a technique for separating
mixtures into their (telling) component parts.
Challenged to determine which of several black pens was used
to write the ransom note, student-detectives explore the concepts
of solubility, pigments, and separation of mixtures as they
use chromatography to ferret out the culprit. Ink is one of
many substances for which the technique is used in science;
the separation of blood and other constituents has become invaluable
in real-world forensic science, and students' fascination with
detective work makes a terrific springboard for further discussion.
Several mystery scenarios are possible, using nefarious characters
drawn from any context you like; many teachers have cast themselves
or the school principal as suspects!
Two excellent connecting GEMS units,
Fingerprinting and Mystery Festival, also draw on detective work and mystery to
explore the very essence of scientific inquiry.
Time: Two 35- to 45-minute sessions plus follow-up sessions.
See the Crime Lab Chemistry online
NSTA Recommends Crime
"This is an exceptionally well-written activity book featuring
two experiments that help students learn the important science
concepts of solubility, pigments, and separation of mixtures
while solving a mystery.
I highly recommend Crime Lab
Chemistry as a great way to introduce students to important
science concepts. The activities are fun and intriguing, but
they require students to use higher levels of thinking and scientific
National Science Teachers Association Recommends
Comment on this GEMS unit.