A "Mysterious" Way to Teach Scientific Inquiry
When I was a kid, I loved mysteries and ghost stories and games. When I was about six, my parents gave me a board game called “Green Ghost.” For the life of me, I don’t remember the details of how the game was played, but I remember that the entire board game glowed in the dark. The point of the game was to make your way around a haunted house with trap doors and attacking ghouls. One fun gimmick of the game was that you had to wait until after dark to play it if you wanted to experience the glow in the dark effect.
As a teacher, I never lost my love for the good mystery. I tried to bring elements of the mysterious into the classroom. My high school students and I played with writing descriptive passages from the home of Jack the Ripper, collected local ghost stories, and discussed the ways in which mystery writers construct their tales.
When I first saw the prospectus for Science Sleuths: Solving Mysteries Using Scientific Inquiry, I was thrilled. The authors, two science teachers, wanted to develop a tool for teaching scientific literacy and inquiry using detective mysteries as their framework.
As the project developed, I became more and more excited. The authors began constructing a book with full-color “evidence” posters, crime logs, crime scene evidence, and a cast of questionable suspects. The crimes they created were intriguing—an art gallery heist, a mysterious death at a bed and breakfast (yes—they called it “Dead and Breakfast”), and a mysterious death at a software company.
Each of the activities in the book requires students to use inquiry, research, and the tools of scientific exploration to solve mysteries. Students must think and act like forensic detectives to succeed. Working in groups, students race to beat the clock as they attempt to determine which suspect should be charged with the crime.
I’m incredibly proud of this book. The authors have a knack for making science fun. The kid in me is pretty envious of the students who will get to experience Science Sleuths in their science classrooms.