The forensic scientists in First-Grade Project-Language Arts were on the case, the Case of the Barefoot Burglar. We walked into the crime lab through a door crisscrossed with caution tape. Groups of detectives hunkered down with suspect and clue cards to identify who may have stolen the money in the piggy bank.
“We’re working on a mystery,” said Milo. He held up the latest clue card, which was an impression of the suspect’s teeth taken from a piece of chocolate at the scene. “Well, Jake the Jock can’t eat chocolate,” Milo reasoned, “because a baseball knocked his teeth out. So it can’t be him. See? My two teeth are out so I have to eat it on the side, like him.”
At the next group, Atlas made the exact opposite deduction. “So we found out the clue was Jake the Jock because he has knocked out teeth. The clue says,” Atlas read, “protruding teeth with spaces between them.”
When the next clue was delivered, Alma read: “This fingerprint was found on the piggy bank and aquarium.” Atlas shuffled through the suspect profiles. “Yes! I found the clue #2. If you look really close….” He leaned toward his groupmates holding a suspect’s fingerprint against the clue to show a match.
Aiden thought Dan the Man best matched the next clue. The class worked out a formula to determine height from a person’s foot size. The result was a suspect at about 5 feet 9 inches. “Dan the Man is 5 foot 8 inches, so this is the closest one,” Aiden decided.
But his teammate McKenley had a different idea. “It’s Loulou because she has two sweet teeth,” she argued. “There is baking powder or baking soda and she likes to cook, and because, the chocolate. She can’t leave home without sugar.”
Aiden countered: “But Dan the Man fits the height the closest.”
“Loulou is who we have the most evidence against,” McKenley said.
Aiden conceded. “And, she doesn’t wear shoes a lot.”
Anisha agreed. “My top suspect is Loulou because she loves sweets and we found a chocolate wrapper,” she said. “She never leaves without sweets, she goes barefoot, and her elbows knock things over.” In addition, a suspicious white powdery substance was left at the scene, and Loulou loves to bake.
The forensic scientists tested various “white substances” to determine which might have been left at the scene. Zahra watched as the teacher dropped water onto a paper plate of sugar. “It absorbed the sugar,” she noticed. When iodine was next dropped onto the sugar, Lennox observed: “it’s just staying there.”
Students carefully studied various substances – including sugar, salt, and cornstarch – analyzing the texture, smell, appearance, and reactions to water, iodine, and vinegar. Their results just might nail the suspect, but I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. You’ll have to ask your little detectives: “Who Dunnit?”