The Missing Money Mystery is based on the premise that a crime occurred in Mr. Mugg’s fourth grade classroom at Markwell Elementary. A canister holding the money for an upcoming geocaching field trip disappeared sometime after dismissal on a Monday afternoon. Mr. Mugg makes this discovery the following morning. He knows his students have been looking forward to this special trip which will introduce them to the natural world through a real-life treasure hunt, and he decides to undertake the investigation himself—with the help of your (the course instructor’s) students.
To launch his investigation, Mr. Mugg uses the classroom computer to learn about forensic science and the necessary activities, tools, and tests he needs to solve the crime. He shares this information with your students through a series of emails. He then locates and gathers the clues and packages and sends them in a box to your classroom. Inside this box are all the materials needed by your students to conduct the investigation, including photographs, scientific equipment and “evidence.”
Each lesson introduces new intriguing evidence, forensic techniques, and insight toward solving the Missing Money Mystery. To limit the suspect possibilities, Mr. Mugg has narrowed the suspects to four—all current students of his. Two are boys and two are identical twin girls. Together, your students work toward the most plausible scenarios and celebrate their findings in the concluding lesson with certificates honoring their work as forensic investigators.
Instructors will find Missing Money Mystery easy and fun to teach. Each lesson provides an activity that teaches a new but related aspect of scientific reasoning and a particular scientific process. None of the labs require special handling or complicated setups. After familiarizing themselves with the lesson, vocabulary, and intended outcome of the activity, instructors set up their classroom so that it is easy for students to work in groups of two or four. Clear guidance is provided in each lesson on how to organize the demonstration area with all the relevant materials at hand. This kit comes with the essential supplies for a class size of 30. A full and detailed list of the other supplies needed are also included.
Course Outline and Lesson Descriptions
(Lesson duration - Approximately 1 hour)
Lesson 1: Figuring Out Forensics - Organization and Observation
A mysterious "bag of stuff," and some peculiar foreign coins launch learners on the trail of a fugitive from justice. Explore the power of description in this exciting introductory lesson.
Lesson 2: Securing the Scene – Collecting Evidence
Wrongdoers, beware! Learners visit the scene of the crime and use real forensic techniques (such as triangulation) to begin the search for trace evidence that will point to a thief!
Lesson 3: Powder Power - Solutions or Suspensions?
Don’t let our sneaky cash-snatcher get away! The plot thickens (and so do some solutions—or are they suspensions?) as students experiment with different mysterious white powders.
Lesson 4: Natural or Not - Fiber Identification
Weave together the threads of a crime in an activity that allows learners to practice a proven technique in forensic fiber analysis. Then put on your deerstalker and set your Sherlockian sights on classifying the evidence. It's elementary, dear Watson!
Lesson 5: Tracking the Tires - Tread Patterns
The plot thickens as Mr. Muggs asks his students to examine the strange pattern of tire tread evidence discovered outside his window. Can you figure out who rode the getaway bicycle?
Lesson 6: Digging for Dirt - Soil Samples
Another form of trace evidence gets the "detective treatment" in this fascinating lesson, as learners explore the work of forensic geologists and sort through soil samples, and chart their observations in their detective notebooks!
Lesson 7: Cast a Clue – Shoe Print Evidence
The guilty party had no idea what they had stepped in. Students analyze shoe prints left at the crime scene to determine if any of the suspects were there.
Lesson 8: Crack the Code - Cryptograms
It may not be quite as challenging as the DaVinci Code, but the coded message left on Mr. Mugg's desk just might point to a clever thief. Learners uncover many secrets of the alphabet (and of master criminals!) in this deciphering activity.
Lesson 9: Lifting Lips - Lip Prints
Does our crook have a crooked smile? Learners "lift," classify, and compare their own lip prints in order to unlock the patterns of this unique form of evidence.
Lesson 10: Proof in Profiling - DNA Identification
The case is nearly cracked when students compare strands of suspects' DNA, and begin to close in on the real culprit. This authentic investigatory procedure explores genetic markers.
Lesson 11: Suspicious Statements: Means, Motive and Opportunity
Students take a careful look at the letters each suspect wrote in the beginning of the year to see any possible connections between their interests and the classroom crime.
Lesson 12: Case Closed: Analyzing the Evidence
Students test their analytical skills when all of the evidence is laid on the table—and will lead our detectives to point their collective fingers at the guilty party: mystery solved!