Engage your budding scientists in K-1 with this fascinating 10-unit classroom caper! This mystery really hits home when a beloved classroom pet Alice has gone missing. Your younger students can join the fun and learn all about crime scene investigation and help solve the Rogue Rodent Mystery!
The Rogue Rodent Mystery forensic science kit is a hands-on exploration that’ll excite kids about learning and build a special interest in Science. Your students will use real laboratory techniques, procedures and materials to get to the bottom or this most troubling crime. Students, will look at the crime scene captured on video to build their own “theory” of the case and then learn about analyze the evidence or “clues” left behind. Students will work together just like adults to get to the bottom of this most troubling crime!
This kit comes with a printed step-by-step Instructor's Guide with advice on delivering each lesson and how to organize the hands-on activities. It also comes with a Resource CD and PDF versions of all student hand-outs. This includes a complete student book with information about the case as well as room to record findings. This kit includes the essential supplies for a class of 15 students. Other basic supplies like foam plates, pencils and rulers will need to be provided.
Bringing the Mystery to Life
Rogue Rodent Mystery is based on the premise that crime occurred in Ms. Hawkins’ science classroom at Cavia Elementary. Her classroom is filled with all sorts of neat things and also has a pet Guinea pig named Alice. Alice is a very special part of the class. Mrs. Hawkins loves animals and knows that the best way for her students to learn about what an animal needs to survive is by observing, or watching, the animal up close. The entire class help stake care of the guinea pig - feeding her, giving her fresh water, cleaning her enclosure, providing things for Alice to chew on, and taking her home to care for her on the weekends. Yesterday, Mrs. Hawkins said goodbye to her students as they headed home.
She put Alice safely back in her enclosure and then went to the cafeteria to grab an afternoon snack. When she came back 20 minutes later she noticed …Alice was gone! 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 Rogue Rodent Mystery.
To limit the suspect possibilities, Ms. Hawkins has narrowed the suspects to four—all current students of hers. 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.
Making the Most of Each Lesson
Instructors will find Rogue Rodent 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. Any necessary safety precautions specific to individual lessons are also provided.
Course Outline and Lesson Descriptions
Lesson 1 - Observing the Clues: Investigation with Your Senses
In this first lesson, your students’ are introduced to the mystery of the missing guinea pig through a video taken immediately after realizing that Alice was missing. Students will also be introduced to the job of a forensic scientist and prepare to take on the role by practicing their skill of observation.
Lesson 2 - Recording Your Findings: Sketching the Scene
This lesson will challenge your students to make a rough sketch of a pretend crime scene. The focus of sketching at this stage (rough) should be the inclusion of all objects, the proper positional placement and relative size of objects in the scene.
Lesson 3 - Listening to a Witness: Creating a Composite Sketch
Students will discover that a picture can replace a long verbal description and help others better understand. In science it is very common to use pictures - photographs, diagrams and graphs – to convey your process and findings.
Lesson 4 - Analyzing Alibis: Monitoring the Movement of Suspects
In this activity, students will hear the alibis of four suspects. They will practice the skills of a forensic scientist by listening carefully to each story. Then, using matching picture cards, students will retell the details of each suspect’s story in sequential order.
Lesson 5 - Applying Physics: Studying Force and a Falling Skeleton
Students will focus on the fallen model skeleton in Mrs. Hawkins’s classroom to imagine (and predict) what happened on the day Alice was taken. By running a simple experiment, students will make a connection between a force (a rolling ball) and the resulting movement of the object (a model skeleton).
Lesson 6 - Inspecting Pattern Evidence: Comparing Shoe Prints
For this lesson, students will focus on visible, two- dimensional prints. They’ll study the visible, two-dimensional shoe prints left behind on Mrs. Hawkins’ classroom floor. Students will try to match parts of a print to a larger pattern and measure the length and width of the shoe print.
Lesson 7 - Researching Rodents: Discovering a Guinea Pig’s Survival Needs
Students will be asked to learn more about guinea pigs to better understand how Alice came to be missing. Is it possible that a suspect took Alice home? This information will be recorded in a table. Students will use the table to make arguments about the potential involvement of each suspect.
Lesson 8 - Following Colorful Clues: Making Orange Paint
In this activity, students will figure out which suspect was most likely to have left behind orange paint smudges by mixing together different primary colors of paint. Students will be challenged to follow a procedure in the correct order.
Lesson 9 - Weighing the Evidence: Testing the Scales of Justice
Students will use balances to literally weigh the evidence of each suspect against one another. Not only will this give your students a chance to use a common measurement tool in science, it will provide a visual to help them formulate their own conclusions.
Lesson 10 - Considering the Confession: Understanding Misunderstandings!
This last activity is designed to tie together any loose ends or resolve unanswered questions about the mystery. It is also designed as a celebration of the mystery solved!