Every year, I create a mystery for students in the Future Science Leaders program to solve. There are several bits of evidence – some of it conflicting – and the students need to determine who did it and provide the evidence that supports their theory.
This year, there has been a tragic death in the fictional town, Suja.
But then, it is found that Louise was dead before the fire! This led us on a wonderful exploration of this town and the love/hate relationships with Louise.
Will you be a member of the jury? Each group has put forward their reasoning but we need some help deciding who makes the best case:
- Mechanics of Reality accuses Jamie Samtha
- Marie Curious accuses Jamie Samtha, Will Feugo, and Mike Desperado
- Bill Nye & the FSL Guys accuses Danielle Didava
- Improbable Observations accuses Vanessa Breezie and Mike Desperado
- Hey There, Universe accuses Jamie Samtha with accomplice Will Fuego
- Exceeding C accuses Mike Desperado and Vanessa Breezie
- Eureka! accuses Jamie Samtha
- A Series of Incomprehensible Events accuses Danielle Didava
You can read their reports and provide feedback as comments. If you think one group convinces you more than others, can you please let me know? (in comments below, twitter or Facebook) Note: the list above is in no particular order.
On Oct. 8th, we will tell the students who convinced the most people. When will I tell them how I designed the mystery (i.e. the ‘right’ answer)? Around Christmas. I know this seems cruel but students are often used to a ‘right answer’ in science and this drives home that there isn’t a textbook in your usual lab = look at the evidence and decide on the best fit answer. I wrote about this last year. Asking others to comment on their communication of ideas is new for this year!
You can also check out the evidence provided to the students!
Evidence without interpretation
The session started with the newscast above. But it didn’t take long for social media to start buzzing. For example:
Then there was the announcement that Louise was dead before the fire started.
The students were then introduced to people in the town and initial interviews completed at the Second Chance coffee shop: Citizens of Suja.pdf
In the meantime, investigators found some other evidence (all in this Other evidence.pdf document)
- computer led to letters being written by Louise
- Death threat in the car, still in its envelope
- Louise’s cell phone was in the fire but some garbled texts were found
- evidence 1 de-scrambing – got to talk to town gossip
- evidence 2 de-scrambling – get to talk to Louise’s friend
- evidence 3 – a note found on a box of unopened chocolates near the back door. There was an interesting footprint near the chocolates. The students of year 2 Future Science Leaders analyzed this footprint.
The interviews with the town gossip and supposed friend: Live interviews.pdf
The analysis provided by year 2 Future Science Leaders:
- The death threat was printed in the coffee shop
- The sand in the footprint came back with conflicting information: one group said it was from the public beach and the other said it was from the private beach.
There was then a more extensive coroner report on Louise. Main points:
- No obvious external injuries
- She is 5 feet tall, 50 kg, 32 years old and seemingly healthy. However:
- maybe past smoker?
- start of fatty liver
- start of kidney disease
- start of plaques in brain
- Interesting fluid on her cheek – spit?
The students then were able to collect and analyze samples a vial found at the coffee shop, vial in Louise’s garbage, Louise’s open liquid sugar, Louise’s sealed liquid sugar, and the box of chocolates. You can also do the analysis:
Poison Evidence.pdf After they determined the poisons in these vials, they could ask for information on the determined poisons = simplified MSDS for
- A. ethyleneglycol_msds
- B. cyanide_msds
- C. botulinumtoxin_msds
- (Note: thanks to Karissa for creating these sheets!)
And there was one last coroner’s report with the amount of poison in Louise’s body:
- Poison A = 821 g
- Poison B = 119 ng (within normal limits for fire victim?)
- Poison C = 25 ng
So, who did it? Check out the student blogs above to see their ideas!