Students at Indian Land Middle School found themselves in the midst of a mystery last week.
Teachers Bill Bruno and Lisa Bachini created a mock crime scene for grade seven science students. The scene was complete with blood spatter, footprints and fingerprints.
Perspective was one of the more cerebral lessons. When the students arrived at the scene of the mock crime, their first job was just to observe, Bruno said. While they looked at the crime scene, they learned about observation and inference, part of the scientific method taught in the classroom.
After observing the scene, the students were allowed to begin gathering evidence.
Just like real crime scene investigators, the students donned gloves before entering the scene so they wouldn't contaminate evidence.
Back in the laboratory, the students analyzed the evidence they gathered. The footprints found at the crime scene were compared to the footprints of the victim and a possible suspect. Hair was discovered in a comb at the crime scene, and students used DNA testing to determine who the hair belonged to.
The students learned about paper chromatography, which helped them determine whether the stains found at the crime scene were blood or another liquid.
They learned more about science and chemistry skills during the activity, Bruno said, but they also had fun.
What made the activity such a success, according to Principal David McDonald, was the hands-on nature of the project.
"The students were excited, engaged and having fun," McDonald said. .
Bruno first learned about using a mock crime scene as a science lesson while studying at Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville this summer. He spent a week at the center learning about creative ideas for his classroom and returned with the lesson plans and materials for a variety of innovative lessons, he said, including the mock crime scene and several others he plans to present to the students this year.
"Anytime you can give them a hands-on activity they get excited," Bruno said.
"And with CSI being so popular on TV and crime shows, kids get captivated. It makes them want to be an active participant in science class."