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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Properties of Matter: Crime Scene Investigation

First graders acted the part of amateur detectives this morning in science class.  We've been using a variety of balls to learn about the properties of matter all week. Students investigated, described, matched, sorted and categorized balls according to their properties. The focus was on the properties color, shape, texture and the relative size and mass of the balls.

Today, students listened excitedly as I told them that the Grapevine Police Department shared one of their crime scenes so that they could practice their observation and deduction skills and demonstrate mastery of the properties of matter standard for first grade.

The scenario went like this...
Over the weekend, a ball was thrown through a window somewhere in Grapevine. Two crime scene clues were given: 
  • The ball that was thrown through the window was smaller than an apple.
  • The ball that was thrown through the window was the heaviest of the group of balls.
Can you use your observation, investigation and deductive skills to determine the ball that was the culprit?

In order to complete the investigation, students focused on the first clue...relative size. They lined up all their balls, compared them to the apple then excluded the all balls that were bigger than an apple.

Then it was on to the second clue...relative mass. Students used a balance scale to compare the mass (weight) of each of the remaining balls until they were sure that they had the heaviest ball (which also happened to be one of the smaller balls).

Then, it was time to open the box to see the actual evidence 'sent to us' by the police department. And.....drumroll was a match!

As students went off to record this event in their Science notebooks I overheard, "I'm going to be a crime scene investigator when I grow up!"..."Yeah, me too."

The idea for this investigation came from STEMscopes, Accelerated Learning. I love using STEMscopes as part of my science instruction and this particular lesson was a big hit!

Upon reflection, how I could have made this lesson better...
  1. I wish I had the yellow crime scene tape enhance the atmosphere.
  2. I wish I had arranged for a real police officer to visit to set up the scenario and give feedback to the 'investigators'. I'll remember that next year:)

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