"Screenwriting was awesome, our kids really loved these activities. It was also really nice to provide such a creative curriculum that addresses the standards in such a fun way." - Heather S., Director, After School, City of Fairfield, CA
“Having taught at the high school and college level, I was impressed with this curriculum. The materials and guidance were well put together and very thoughtful." - Michael L., Artist, Shea After School, Syracuse, NY
“This amazing program has enabled my students to comprehend the process of forensic science as well as the sophisticated vocabulary encompassed in the program's lessons.” - Erica T., Freehold Public Schools, Freehold, NJ
“This is a well organized course that I would highly recommend to other programs.” - Chad S., Teacher, School #18, Buffalo, NY
“The program is awesome! I’m doing it as part of an after school enrichment time. Our kids really enjoy the projects and it’s wonderful to use as everything is provided.” - Karen S.,Teacher, Olympic Middle School, WA
“This is the perfect kind of activity for afterschool. It’s fun; students learn by getting involved. Everybody wants to be a part of it!” - Kim L., Program Leader, Child and Adolescent Treatment Services, Buffalo NY
“They love it…it’s awesome. Kids are dying to get in it!” - Audrey A., Teacher, Clifford Marshall Elementary School, Quincy, MA
“The Missing Money Mystery was very easy to follow. The children had such a great time at it, we even allowed our group to re-enact the entire mystery. This mystery was fantastic, and we are looking forward to our next exercise!” - Jackie. J., Director/Detective, Hempstead P.A.L., Hempstead, NY
“The students were engaged and enjoyed the experiments. The story keeps the activities meaningful and provided an interested way to connect Florida Standards. The teacher’s manual was easy to follow and materials in the kits made it very convenient for set up. Overall, this is a great thing to do in afterschool and during the summer!” - Betty C., Teacher, Genesis Center, Leesburg FL
“Playing with Percussion offers an exciting doorway to exploring percussion, communication skills and learning about different cultures." - Sheila K., Site Leader, Accord Corp, Youth Services Division, Belfast NY
"Our kids enjoyed making their own instruments, especially sanding. Playing all those grooves at the end was a lot of fun!" - Nina P., Music teacher, Napa, CA
“The Cookie Jar Mystery was such a big hit at the middle school…which has been tough.”
-Charlie E., Teacher, Lexington County Schools, SC
"The Cookie Jar Mystery went really well, the kids talked about it for weeks. They were very excited and intrigued with the hands-on activities and I really enjoyed teaching it!"
-Brook T.,Teacher, Lincoln Middle Schools, TN
Get ready to embark on an exciting adventure in the world of forensic science!
The Cookie Jar Mystery is a fun, forensic science mini-course consisting of six modules designed to engage middle school students in grade 6-8. In Mrs. Johnson’s classroom, a curious crime has taken place: her favorite cookie jar has been broken and not surprisingly, some of her delicious, homemade cookies have been eaten! As a scientist and teacher, Mrs. Johnson realizes that this unfortunate incident provides a “teachable moment”—an opportunity to teach students how to use the tools of forensic science, understand the crime, and find the guilty party!
Module 1 - The Crime Scenario
To kick off the series, students are introduced to the classroom caper through observing the re-created crime scene of the broken cookie jar and surrounding clues. Students learn about the steps of the investigation, chain of custody and the identities of the four suspects in question.
Activity 1: Observing the Crime Scene
Activity 2: Eyewitness Reporting
Activity 3: Suspects at Large
Module 2 - Always Leave A Note: Handwriting and Ink Analysis
Students examine the most obvious clue — the note left behind at the crime scene. They explore handwriting analysis by comparing the note to suspect's writing samples and then conduct chromatography tests on the pens found on each of the suspects.
Activity 1: Comparison of Hair Samples
Activity 2: Ink Analysis
Module 3 - Without A Trace: Examining Hair and Fiber Evidence
Students learn about the famous French scientist, Edmond Locard, often referred to as the grandfather of forensic science who believed “every contact leaves a trace.” Students will examine and compare both hair and fiber samples found at the crime scene to that of the suspects.
Activity 1: Analyze Hair Samples
Activity 2: Fiber Analysis
Module 4 - First Impressions: Fingerprints and Shoeprints
Upon further examination of the evidence, it’s discovered that there were fingerprints and a shoeprint discovered at the crime scene. Students will study fingerprint patterns, make matches and analyze samples taken from the suspects.
Activity 1: Fingerprinting and Analysis
Activity 2: Shoeprints
Module 5 - One of A Kind: Blood Typing and DNA
This activity furthers the students’ case by looking at unique evidence pieces covering blood types and DNA from blood samples. Students will conduct blood typing experiments to look for possible matches from the suspect samples.
Activity 1: Blood Typing
Activity 2: DNA Extraction
Activity 3: Making a Match
Module 6 - Law and Order: Conclusion and Mock Trial
Students will consult all the data and present who they believe to be guilty based on their new knowledge of forensic science and the evidence discovered. Students will prepare a case for either the prosecution or the defense in a mock courtroom complete with judge and jury!
Activity 1: Trail Test Drive
Activity 2: Evidence Summary
Activity 3: Preparing for Trial
Activity 4: Your Day in Court
In The Cookie Jar Mystery, instructors and students participate in the investigation, aided by the clues and developments in the case revealed in the ongoing story of Mrs. Johnson’s classroom. Although every module moves students closer to a final conclusion and the guilty suspect, each module is fully self-contained, providing a complete science module/lab, all of the activities and assessments to support student understanding, and an engaging chapter in the story of the crime.To kick off the series, students are introduced to the classroom caper through observing the re-created crime scene of the broken cookie jar and surrounding clues. Students learn about the steps of the investigation, chain of custody and the identities of the four suspects in question.
Students then examine the most obvious clue — the note left behind at the crime scene. They explore handwriting analysis by comparing the note to suspect's writing samples and then conduct chromatography tests on the pens found on each of the suspects. Students move next to learning about the famous French scientist, Edmond Locard, often referred to as the grandfather of forensic science who believed “every contact leaves a trace.” Students will examine and compare both hair and fiber samples found at the crime scene to that of the suspects. Upon further examination of the evidence, it’s discovered that there were fingerprints and a shoeprint discovered at the crime scene. Students will study fingerprint patterns, make matches and analyze samples taken from the suspects.
Now your students’ are ready to delve deeper by looking at unique evidence pieces covering blood types and DNA from blood samples. Students will conduct blood typing experiments to look for possible matches from the suspect samples. Students will conclude the case by consulting all the data and present who they believe to be guilty based on their new knowledge of forensic science and the evidence discovered. Students will then prepare a case for either the prosecution or the defense in a mock courtroom complete with judge and jury!
At the conclusion of the investigation, your students will take apply their knowledge of forensic science to the courtroom seeking a conviction in a mock trial. Students can work off an existing script or create their entire cases with opening statements, introducing evidence and by providing expert witnesses testimony. A great way to take the learning further. Now includes Student Investigation Notebooks so you don't have to make copies!
Preparing Staff to Teach the “Cookie Jar Mystery”
Welcome to the Staff Training Notes for The Cookie Jar Mystery, a series of 6 hands-on modules in forensic science designed for 6th to 8th graders. This program is ideal for in school, after-school programs and summer camps.
Who can teach The Cookie Jar Mystery?
Any responsible, enthusiastic and well-briefed group leader, teacher, volunteer, parent, or other motivated adult can teach The Cookie Jar Mystery. The text is easy to read and understand, the set-ups are detailed and uncomplicated, and the processes and procedures are clearly explained in the Lesson Plans.
What special skills does the instructor need to teach The Cookie Jar Mystery?
No special technical or scientific (or forensic!) skills are necessary to teach The Cookie Jar Mystery. Instructors should be well organized, motivated and observant individuals. Volunteers—such as other instructors or parents—can be helpful in ensuring that all students are proceeding through their labs and making progress in their understanding. The Cookie Jar Mystery is fun, so enthusiastic and positive instructors are essential “cheerleaders” in the learning process.
The Cookie Jar Mystery seems to contain a lot of “labs” that require “special handling”—do all of these experiments really work?
Absolutely! Each activity in the course has been designed to teach an important lesson in scientific reasoning and to conduct a scientific process. These scientific processes can be
How can instructors most effectively deliver the lessons in The Cookie Jar Mystery?
Teaching any lesson in The Cookie Jar Mystery is easy if the instructor is well-prepared. Follow these steps before every lesson.
Once your lesson has started…..
Before you begin each lesson, review “the case so far…” by reminding students of the materials and processes they’ve explored in previous lessons. Review some vocabulary. Ask students if they have developed any theory of the crime. . . .
When you introduce new material and procedures, take a moment to assess how much students already know. For example, in a lesson on fingerprints, ask students to look at their own fingertips and describe them. Ask them where one can find fingerprints around the house and which rooms are likely to yield the most fingerprints. Where else is it common to find fingerprints?
Students will be stimulated when they get a chance to “show off” a little of their crime-solving knowledge.
Extend your lesson
Instructors—particularly those with access to computer labs—can extend their lessons by reading through many of the activities described in the Other Directions, Discussions and Destinations section at the end of each lesson. Even if there’s no computer available in the classroom, many activities can be adapted by an instructor who takes the time to visit the recommended websites before delivering a lesson.
Consult your colleagues
Many lessons in The Cookie Jar Mystery have cross-disciplinary applications. Talk with other teachers in your school or program about the ways in which what they are teaching might connect to your lesson. As you plan and prepare, ask your colleagues for good “discussion starters”. Show them the activity sheets and materials you are using, and ask for their experience in teaching about science processes. The Cookie Jar Mystery is a great jumping-off point for lessons in character education, too!
A note about safety
All of the materials and activities in The Cookie Jar Mystery have been prepared with the greatest concern for student and instructor safety. Please read safety precautions closely before every lesson and make sure that when you are working you have provided adequate light, space, and information to ensure that all participants are afforded the highest standard of safety possible.