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Notes for the Instructor

This mystery is a project-based learning experience that asks your students to complete a series of activities in order to bring home Alice, the missing guinea pig. The more realistic the mystery seems to your students, the more engaged and invested they will be in learning the information and conducting the science experiments. As the instructor, your enthusiasm and investment is key!

Throughout this mystery, students will use the scientific method to solve problems. They will:

  • Make observations about the world around them and use these observations to ask questions.
  • Form an idea, or hypothesis, about what they think happened.
  • Conduct tests, or experiments, that help them answer their questions.
  • Look at the results, or data, of their experiment and figure out what the data show.
  • Make a conclusion, or answer their initial question.
  • Communicate their findings with others.

This initial activity introduces your students to the mystery of the missing guinea pig through a video taken immediately after realizing that Alice was missing. Students will also be introduced to the job of a forensic scientist and prepare to take on the role by practicing their skill of observation.

Observation, the process of using your senses to gather information, is one of the most essential skills in science. Scientists are constantly taking in information through their senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. These observations often lead to questions that are then answered through experimentation.

In particular, forensic scientists must be very in tune to their senses as they investigate crime scenes. Everything that they see, hear, smell and feel can help them to solve the mystery. Conversely, if the forensic scientists miss something important, the mystery may go unsolved.

Data collection and record keeping is also extremely important in forensic science. Investigators take detailed photographs, create sketches, make notes and label physical evidence. Recording allows scientists to revisit the scene throughout the investigation.

After watching the video, your students will practice making observations and recording those findings about a person of interest that will visit the classroom. With these skills in place, they will be well on their way to bringing Alice home!