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Have your students solve a fun mystery using science!
A crime has occurred! Mrs. Lane’s class won a donut party as a reward for good behavior. On the day of the party, someone took 3 donuts! Fingerprints, footprints, mysterious powders, a mysterious decoder wheel and note, and animal fur are just some of the strange things that were found all over the crime scene. Can you figure out which suspect took the donuts? Use science to solve the mystery!
My fourth grade students have a 40 minute science class. This entire lesson plan takes us about 9 classes to finish. I have 16 students, they work in pairs to complete the activities and solve the mystery.
Classes 1 and 2 – introduction to fingerprinting, have your students take their own fingerprints and learn how to classify them. Directions included on how to take your own fingerprints using just pencil and tape. Worksheets included: Classifying Fingerprints, How to Take Your Fingerprints, My Fingerprints, Fingerprint Data.
Classes 3 and 4 – introduction to chromatography. Find out which colors were mixed together to create black ink in markers! Directions included on how to do paper chromatography using a coffee filter, 2 worksheets included to record data and predictions.
Class 5 – Re-create the crime scene in your classroom using easy to obtain materials or use the photo of the crime scene I set up in my classroom. Read the story of what happened, list 5 clues found at the crime scene on worksheet “Who Took the Donuts?!”
Class 6 – Continue finding clues at the crime scene – there are a total of 10! All of which will be further investigated. Introduce the suspects and make the 12 page mini-booklets where all data will be recorded.
Class 7 – Review all 10 Mystery Stations – all 10 clues will be examined and suspects will be narrowed down. Assign partners, explain every station so that all will know what to do during the next class.
Class 8 – Mystery Station Day! Go from Mystery Station to Mystery Station, examining clues and recording data from each activity.
Class 9 – Work on the worksheet “Making Sense of the Clues” – figure out who took the donuts and how he or she did it! Take a class secret vote – write who you think did it. Read the story of what really happened and congratulate your awesome scientists on a job well done!
Checklists included: Items Needed for Mystery – baking soda, vinegar, dog and/or cat fur, coffee filters, 4 different brands of black marker, sugar, salt.
Setting Up the Crime Scene Checklist: find an area of your classroom that is approximately 4’ x 3’ and set up the re-creation. If you do not have an area where you can do this, show students photograph of the crime scene I set up. Put out all items on checklist, each of which is a clue.
Set up all 10 Mystery Stations – photos included showing exactly how to set up station. 2 word searches and a decoder wheel activity included for early finishers. Footprints and fingerprints included.
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Please note: these units are for the use of one educator.
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Sue from Science for Kids :)