Welcome to The Cookie Jar Mystery- An exciting adventure in the world of forensic science!
The Cookie Jar Mystery is a fun, forensic science mini-course consisting of six separate modules designed to engage upper elementary school students.
In Mrs. Johnson’s classroom, a curious crime has taken place: her favorite cookie jar has been broken and not surprisingly, some of her delicious, homemade cookies have been eaten! As a scientist and teacher, Mrs. Johnson realizes that this unfortunate incident provides a “teachable moment”—an opportunity to teach students how to use the tools of forensic science, understand the crime, and find the guilty party! In The Cookie Jar Mystery, instructors and students participate in the investigation, aided by the clues and developments in the case revealed in the ongoing story of Mrs. Johnson’s classroom. Although every module moves students closer to a final conclusion and the guilty suspect, each module is fully self contained,providing a complete science module/lab, all of the activities and assessments to support student understanding, and an engaging chapter in the story of the crime.
Module Structure in Five Easy Steps: Teaching Forensic Science
1. Overview: Easy classroom set-up, list of materials to acquire, background information for the teacher, and learning objectives.
2. More to the Story: Engaging Students:A stand-alone, read-aloud “chapter” in the ongoing story of the middle-school crime: the breaking of Mrs. Johnson’s cookie jar, the theft of cookies, and the pursuit of justice.
3. Hands-On Activities: Experiments that range from developing observation skills to fingerprint detection, understanding DNA and much, much more!
4. Data Collection and Analysis: Students develop a working theory of the crime by recording their experimental data on handy,activity-related “case notes”, then discussing their findings with their fellow classroom “detectives.”
5. Assessment, Standards, and Extensions: Strategies on how to assess student understanding, procedures and content of each learning activity are included. A standards correlation sheet clearly demonstrates how The Cookie Jar Mystery’s activities
meet national standards in Science and ELA. Module extensions, resources, and additional reading are recommended in each module. Each module contains a glossary of terms introduced.
To kick off the series in Module 1: The Crime Scenario, students are introduced to the classroom caper through discovery of clues at the re-created crime scene. Students learn about the steps of the investigation, observation, and the identities of the four suspects in question.
In Module 2: Always Leave a Note—Handwriting and Ink Analysis, Students examine the most obvious clue: the note left behind at the crime scene. They explore handwriting analysis by comparing the note to suspects’ writing samples and then conduct chromatography tests on the ink in the pens found on each suspect.
In Module 3: Without A Trace—Examining Hair and Fiber Evidence, Students learn about the famous French scientist, Edmond Locard, often referred to as the grandfather of forensic science who believed “every contact leaves a trace.” Students will examine and compare both hair and fiber samples found at the crime scene to those of the suspects.
In Module 4: First Impressions—Fingerprints and Shoeprints, upon further examination of the evidence, in Module 4: First Impressions—Fingerprints and Shoeprints, it’s discovered that there were fingerprints and a shoeprint found at the crime scene. Students will study fingerprint patterns, make matches and analyze samples taken from the suspect.
In Module 5: One of a Kind—Blood Typing and DNA, This activity furthers the students’ case by looking at unique evidence pieces covering blood types and DNA from blood samples. Students will conduct blood typing and DNA experiments to look for possible matches to the suspect samples.
Module 6: Law and Order—Conclusion and Mock Trial, your students will create cases to prosecute or defend their leading suspect in a role-play mock trial. The roles will be developed by students with a close association to an actual courtroom, with a strong emphasis on evidence and expert testimony by student forensic scientists. Students will consult all the data and present who they believe to be guilty based on their new
knowledge of forensic science and the evidence discovered. Students will prepare a case for either the prosecution or the defense in a mock courtroom complete with judge and jury!
Each lesson comes with a complete supply list and all the handouts for each activity. Many of the supplies needed are found in most classrooms, other can be found at science suppliers or your local grocery store.