Crime Lab Chemistry: Solving Mysteries with Chromatography

Grades 4—8

Written by Jacqueline Barber and Kevin Beals with Carolyn Willard

This all new, updated version of the classic GEMS best seller has been significantly enhanced, with new sessions and added background for the teacher. In this unit's prime scenario, pegging the pen used to write a ransom note comes down to chromatography, a technique for separating mixtures into their (telling) component parts. Poirot never had it this good.

This New GEMS rewrite starts with the classic sessions from the original guide: Challenged to determine which of several black pens was used to write a ransom note, student-detectives explore the concepts of solubility, pigments, and separation of mixtures as they use chromatography to ferret out the culprit. New sessions provide multiple opportunities for students to visualize the molecular nature and behavior of matter, as they create and revise models and consider the advantages and limitations of models.

Ink is one of many substances for which chromatography is used in science; the separation of blood and other constituents has become invaluable in real-world forensic science, and students' fascination with detective work makes a terrific springboard for further discussion.

Several mystery scenarios are possible, using nefarious characters drawn from any context you like; many teachers have cast themselves or the school principal as suspects!

Two excellent connecting GEMS units, Fingerprinting and Mystery Festival, also draw on detective work and mystery to explore the very essence of scientific inquiry.

Time: Five 35- to 45-minute sessions plus follow-up sessions.

See the Crime Lab Chemistry online orientation video.

Recommends   Crime Lab Chemistry
"This is an exceptionally well-written activity book featuring two experiments that help students learn the important science concepts of solubility, pigments, and separation of mixtures while solving a mystery. …I highly recommend Crime Lab Chemistry as a great way to introduce students to important science concepts. The activities are fun and intriguing, but they require students to use higher levels of thinking and scientific processes."

–National Science Teachers Association Recommends
(Review of the original version of the guide.)

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ISBN: Grade Level Format Price



5 Sessions,
91 pages


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