Hands-on science at Forest Lake Elementary

Photo by Mary Bailey Sue Meyer of the Science Museum of Minnesota presented the facts of the case at Forest Lake Elementary on Monday, Feb. 3.

The Science Museum’s Sue Meyer presented the facts of the case at Forest Lake Elementary on Monday, Feb. 3.

Week-long ‘crime scene’ investigation

By analyzing handwriting, hair, fiber and DNA samples, Forest Lake Elementary students are solving a crime and learning science at the same time.

The crime is not real, but by engaging the students in hands-on activities, Science Museum of Minnesota staff hope the learning will be.

The Science Museum residency began Monday, Feb. 3 when a crime was presented to the student body in a large group assembly.

Every day since then, each classroom spends an hour looking at the evidence during sessions led by Science Museum staff. The crime scene science activities are based on Minnesota science standards.

On Friday, Feb. 7, students will present their findings during a second assembly and have a chance to solve the crime.

Principal Jeff Ion said a staff leadership team came up with the idea. Students are at Forest Lake Elementary for three years, for grades 4, 5 and 6. A three-year cycle of special learning opportunities gives them a different focus each year, and this year the topic is forensic science.

The $5,000 cost was paid by the parent-teacher organization. Ion said that amount would not cover taking the students to the Science Museum, but provides 36 hours of direct instruction in the classroom.