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Missing bear case solved with forensics

The class teddy has been stolen? Who can help find it?

This was the forensic science challenge set by teacher Lynn Yeneka at Chapelhall Primary in Airdrie last week.

Three P3-4 classes were set the task of solving the crime using techniques such as finger printing, footprinting, chromatography, and examining the ransom note. Over three days they dressed up in the roles, collected evidence and examined it, made notes and worked together to solve the crime.

"We began by talking about what scientists do," explains Mrs Yeneka. "The children were so enthusiastic, and made comments such as `This is real science'. They view science as being what they see on television and it is amazing the information they already have about it. We extended this knowledge and asked what they wanted to find out."

The challenge involved simple tests linked to the crime scene, and the class then talked about what would happen if they were a witness to a crime. They covered all aspects of forensic work, with the challenge set up in such a way that it was about much more than science.

"The link to other areas of the curriculum occurs quite naturally," she says. "Imaginative writing; functional report writing; using maths in measuring footprints; as well as examining alibis and the time it takes to get from one place to the other."

It also allowed for misconceptions to be challenged - that identical twins have identical fingerprints, for example. "Telling them this wasn't sufficient," says Mrs Yeneka. "We had to prove it to them and take fingerprints of a set of identical twins in the class."

Deemed a success, the challenge will involve the whole school next year, when the mascot goes into hiding because one of the other candidates for mascot steals its tie.

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