NAPLES — Matthew’s prize dog has been “dognapped” and it is up to the Pine Ridge Middle School crime scene investigation team to solve the mystery.
They have evidence and four suspects — Danny, Eddie, John and Jake — who each have a pen that could have written the ransom note left on the dog dish.
The scientists are excited about the case.
“I like it a lot. It’s really fun,” said Majd Ibrahim, 12. “Some kids in the class want to be this when they grow up. Now, they will know what to do. And for us, it is not a regular class where we would read out of a book.”
Pauline Shaefer’s sixth-grade science classroom is the location of Pine Ridge Middle School’s crime scene laboratory. Shaefer received a $750 grant from Macy’s Department Store through The Education Foundation’s Connect with a Classroom program to do the CSI experiments.
“It was so generous (of Macy’s) and it is really motivational for the kids,” Shaefer said. “I am able to tie it into what we are doing in class — we just finished a unit on chemistry — and into what they watch on TV.”
The Connect with a Classroom program allows teachers to apply for grants that allow the teacher to enhance students’ learning through projects or activities that go beyond the general curriculum.
Since receiving the grant, Shaefer’s classes have worked on three “cases.” The first involved a murder and asked the students to gather DNA and fingerprints from the crime scene. The second, involved a famous chef whose cake was ruined with too much baking powder. The students had to analyze four powders to determine which one was the culprit.
In the dognapping crime, the students used chromatography paper to analyze the ink in the pens taken from each of the suspects. Putting a small dot of ink on the paper, the students placed the end of the paper in water and allowed the water to run up the paper, streaking the ink as it travelled.
“I didn’t know black ink had blue in it,” said Megan Barrett, 12, as she watched the ink travel up her piece of chromatography paper.
But the experiment made some a little weary.
“I am never using markers again. Not with these chemicals in them,” said sixth-grader Julia Khan, 11, as she watched a rainbow of colors streak her piece of paper.
Shaefer said chromatography isn’t covered in sixth-grade science, but said anything that contributes to a students interest in science is worth exploring.
Soleil Hughes, 11, said she likes Shaefer’s experiments.
“It’s really fun because it’s like you’re doing mini-CSI crimes,” she said. “It’s a fun way to learn science.”
Sam Hone, 11, said she learned something new from the exercise.
“I didn’t think markers would do this,” she said.
Sam said she enjoyed the second case, which involved the cake, the best.
“I liked the measuring and math that was tied into it,” she said.
By the end of class, the students had solved the case. Eddie committed the dognapping.
“I think Eddie got mad at something and wanted to get revenge,” said Rilee Standriff, 11, about a possible motive.
For more information on the Connect With a Classroom grant, visit www.educationforcollier.org.