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Crime science

As an example of an application of science to a real-life situation, I prepared a reconstruction of a crime scene, with police tape securing the classroom doors. When the children entered, they found a chalk outline of a body on the floor and various "clues" on work tables.

I said we were investigating a pretend murder using the type of evidence that police might find. The children moved around the room, collating the information from the clues.

At the end of the day each group presented their results and named the "murderer" indicated by their investigations. These included chromatography of the ink used to amend a cheque, observation of fibres and hairs from the suspects compared with those found in the victim's grasp, identification of a white powder found in a cup belonging to the victim and comparison of soils found on the suspects' shoes and footprints found beside the body.

There were instructions for carrying out each investigation and before starting we discussed the tests each group would undertake to ensure their existing knowledge was being reinforced.

To link with literacy activities, each group presented their results in the form of a newspaper report, news item or courtroom drama. The day was really enjoyed and children had a sense of discovery. This activity is best suited to Years 5 and 6 and could be adapted to "mystery visitor" if murder was felt to be inappropriate.

Carolyn Gleeson, headteacher, Halton Holegate C of E Primary School, Halton Holegate, Lincs

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