Have we ever had fun with this Science Sleuths mini-unit! My children love a good mystery, so I knew this science-related study would be just up their alley.
Written for grades 6-9, Science Sleuths includes three detailed cases for your children to solve based on clues and evidence that slowly trickle in over the course of a few days time.
Using critical thinking, inquiry skills and the scientific method, your child will crack the case by examining such evidence as
- DNA gels (not real, but data provided)
- suspect charts
- crime files
- crime scene sketches
- interrogation transcripts
- lab reports
- data from video surveillance
- maps of the scene
The reports and other evidence are given to your children over the course of a few days and kept in a crime file. This allows them to examine the evidence and make conclusions daily based on the current information. As the investigation comes to a close, they should have gathered and processed all the information thoroughly enough to make final conclusions in the case.
Very good documentation (ie. crime file) and data pages (ie. suspect charts) are included in the book!! These pages helped my children feel like their crime files were quite realistic. Charts are also included for fingerprint typing, and reading DNA gels. There are even three full-color, pull-out posters included that act as the bulletin board of information relating to each case.
Final products from your student will include a suspect chart, crime log, hypothesis about the crime and a re-creation of the crime essay. A rubric is supplied to help you place a grade on your children’s work if you like.
The book was originally written for use in a classroom, but they suggest cracking the cases either as individuals or in small groups. This works perfectly for the homeschool setting. My ten year old son completed the cases along with his 13 year old sister. But because of the pretty in-depth critical thinking involved and the subject matter, I wouldn’t try to use this with a child younger than about 5th grade.
Just in case your wondering, the topics of each of the three cases are:
- The Great Art Heist – Your children must determine who stole several paintings from and art gallery.
- Dead and Breakfast – A man dies after and estate auction and your children must determine if there was foul play.
- Fatal Error – A man is found strangled by a mouse cord while he is working on a groundbreaking new computer program.
(See, I told you the subject matter is probably not appropriate for younger children. And some of you may find that it isn’t even appropriate for your older children. But, I found the cases to be no more grizzly than a good game of Clue. In fact, it may just spur one of your children into the field of crime fighting!)