Sherlock Holmes, Adventure of the Speckled Band & the Scientific Method
I love to begin the year with this great activity to get student excited to think about the scientific method. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous character, Sherlock Holmes was perhaps the first fictional detective to use the scientific method to solve crimes during a time period where this was not universally common practice in reality. In many Holmes mysteries data is not hidden from the reader as is the case in many detective mysteries. So the reading can, in theory, reach the same conclusions as Holmes. It is interesting to read these great stories from a scientist’s point of view; is Holmes using a scientific method, does Watson, and is all the evidence truly given to the reader?
When I do this activity I like to watch a video of a Sherlock Holmes mystery called the Adventure of the Speckled Band because it works very well for this purpose. I use a video from the series done by Jeremy Brett as Holmes because this video goes along almost verbatim with the original book. If you school does not have this on DVD here is a link that you can go to watch it online that is free, (at least for now): http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13m1nj_sherlock-holmes-6-the-speckled-band_creation
If you prefer you might want your student to read the story, also a great way to do this activity. You may do some interdisciplinary classes as well. PDF versions of I think all the Sherlock Holmes mysteries can be found online. Not sure if it’s ok for me to post the PDF’s from here but here’s a link to the PDF’s that I found: https://sherlock-holm.es/stories/pdf/a4/1-sided/spec.pdf
If you print out the story for your students to read, you may want ‘white out’ or cover up the ending of the story so students can form their own conclusions as to what has happened to poor Julia Stoner. This makes for some great discussions. Then after, you can decide whether or not you want to show them, or allow them to read the conclusion. (I like to tease them on this. Usually I let them watch/read the ending but it is fun if you don’t because they’ll be dying to see who done it!)
This activity works great for a sub plan and also if a student is absent for class it is easy to assign them the reading.
What you get…
3 pages of well-crafted questions and discussion points that go along with the video and/or reading. (Not to mention the links and lesson summary above). Enjoy!