Who Sent the Cake? Using Science to Solve a Mystery

Grade Levels
2nd, 3rd
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Have your students solve a mystery using chemistry!
A crime has occurred! This crime is age appropriate for 2nd and 3rd grade students. A dog is in “jail” for stealing dog food. Someone tries to help him escape by hiding a metal file inside of a cake– your students will figure out who sent the cake! By doing chromatography and chemistry, the mystery will be solved using science.

Materials: paper towels or chromatography paper (available at wards.com https://www.wardsci.com/store/catalog/product.jsp?catalog_number=153708)water, magic markers, baking soda, baking powder, flour, grape or cabbage juice (available at SteveSpangler.com or make your own).

The first experiment your students will perform to solve the mystery is called Paper Chromatography. Paper chromatography is a fun and easy science experiment that I have done with all of the grade levels I teach: PK - 8. For these experiments, you will need paper towels or chromatography paper, water, markers, and tape. Strips of paper with marker lines are them are suspended in water, the water will creep up the paper via capillary action separating the mixture of marker ink into a rainbow of colors – the results are amazing! My students love to see which colors separate out of the marker ink. Black and brown always produce the most interesting results – they have the most colors in them and the results are such a surprise. Chromatography will be performed on the 3 suspects’ markers to figure out who wrote the mystery note that came with the cake.

The second experiment your students will perform to solve the mystery is called Mystery Powders. A strange white powder was found on the cake plate – your students will figure out what it is and by doing so, they will know whose kitchen it came from. I have done this lab for 20 years with my students – it is always a favorite!

This packet includes:

-Explanations of mixtures and paper chromatography

-Detailed directions on how to perform paper chromatography, materials needed, procedure, photographs of my students’ experiments, student prediction worksheet, student chromatography results worksheet, photograph of student results, student recording data chart

-Who Sent the Cake? - original mystery, class discussion questions included to encourage critical thinking on how this mystery can be solved using evidence and chemistry experiments.

-Mystery Powder chemistry experiments includes detailed directions, materials, procedure, set-up, student data chart and answer key

-Paper Chromatography - Mystery Suspects Markers experiment - set-up and directions, photographs of my students’ experiment results, student worksheet included

-What Really Happened - the true story behind the mystery

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Sue from Science for Kids :)

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Who Sent the Cake? Using Science to Solve a Mystery
Who Sent the Cake? Using Science to Solve a Mystery
Who Sent the Cake? Using Science to Solve a Mystery
Who Sent the Cake? Using Science to Solve a Mystery
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