Activities for middle school students to sleuth a chemistry "whodunit" and investigate the scientific method

Audrey F. Meyer, Cassandra M. Knutson, Solaire A. Finkenstaedt-Quinn, Sarah M. Gruba, Ben M. Meyer, John W. Thompson, Melissa A. Maurer-Jones, Sharon Halderman, Ayesha S. Tillman, Lizanne Destefano, Christy L. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The recent increased public interest in forensic science, sparked in part by television shows such as CSI and Bones, presents an opportunity for science educators to engage students in forensic chemistry-themed activities to introduce fundamental concepts, such as the scientific method. In an outreach setting, mysteries were used as a way to engage middle school students to select forensics tests, form hypotheses, make observations while conducting the tests, consider positive and negative controls, and use the results to reach conclusions. Student data shows that the outreach activities generally increase student understanding of the scientific method. These activities have been translated from outreach activities into accessible activities for middle and high school classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-413
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 11 2014


  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Elementary/Middle School Science
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • High School/Introductory Chemistry
  • Laboratory Instruction
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making
  • Public Understanding/Outreach

MRSEC Support

  • Primary


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