A couple of dozen middle school students from Boston put their heads together last week and solved the murder of a 35-year old woman from Charlestown whose life was complicated by a hot-headed boyfriend, sketchy repairman, nosy neighbor, and jealous business rival. Granted, the characters in this murder scenario are fictional. But the students and the scientific techniques they used to solve the crime are real.
The Crime Scene Investigation project for kids is the creation of Science from Scientists, a Boston-based nonprofit that has shown repeatedly that students in grades 4 to 8 respond a lot better to hands-on learning than wrestling with science texts. For six hours, 45 students worked their way through various workstations at Northeastern University, where scientists in white lab coats guided them in fingerprinting analysis, chemical identification, typing of (simulated) blood, and paper chromatography.