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CSI: Native America

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Keywords: journal writing, hair analysis, soil testing, Crime Scene Investigation, web page development
Subject(s): Science, Chemistry
Grades 5 through 6
Original Author: Marti Mauntel, Dubois
Lesson Title: Murder or Self-Defense: What happened to the Last Native American in Dubois County?
Subject areas covered: Science, Language Arts, Math
Grades 5/6

Project Overview

Imagine witnessing the murder scene of the last Native American in Dubois County, Indiana. Teams of 5th and 6th grade students will investigate and photograph the murder scene as CSI teams and gather the evidence (hair samples, soil samples, and cloth samples). In gathering the evidence, they will learn archeology and investigative science testing techniques. Evidence will be taken to the lab and teams will generate a theory to be supported by lab tests. The microscope, chromatography paper, soil kits, and pH meters are all materials used to test the evidence. Students will choose the labs and materials they need to reach a solution to the crime. All work will be documented in a journal using Tool Factory Workshop and supplemented with pictures taken at the scene of the crime. The end product will be a mystery book containing clues, evidence, and the solution. Each team will create a book using Tool Factory Workshop. Students will use the digital cameras to record evidence as a real CSI agent would do and also to investigate as an archaeologist would without disturbing artifacts. Using Multimedia Lab V, students will recreate the crime scene. This display can be made into a web page using Tool Factory Homepage and uploaded on the district's website which could be accessed by parents to allow them to be an active part of the learning process.


-Students will learn the proper use of a digital camera.
-Students will improve computer skills using Tool Factory software.
-Students will improve writing skills.
-Students will test data and confer with group members to infer a crime solution.
-Students will make observations to record in journals.
-Students will collaborate to create a mystery book by using evidence from the crime scene.

Lesson Plans

Day 1 Use camera workbooks to learn camera skills.
Day 2 Learn how to use a microscope and how to make slides.
Day 3 Learn how to do soil analysis.
Day 4 Investigate crime scene, gather evidence and take pictures. Record in journals.
Day 5 Work in teams to process evidence and decide testing procedures needed.
Day 6 Test soil, hair samples, fabric samples as needed.
Day 7 Record findings in journal.
Day 8 Discuss all evidence and reach a conclusion that becomes the crime solution.
Day 9 Work on books.
Day 10 Work on books.
Day 11 Publish books and begin website.
Day 12 Finish website.

This unit took time to prepare but then became student driven. It was such a pleasure to see students so excited and involved.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
The journal and book writing is Language Arts. Math was involved in measuring and sectioning the crime scene. Social Studies was involved in the background historical information needed to understand the crime scene.
One follow-up activity could be a trial to determine whether the crime was self-defense or murder.
Materials: Web Page, Word Processor, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 3 LaMotte Soil Kits, $21.50 each, total of $64.50
4 pH meters, $18.70 each, total of $74.80
1 microscope, $298 each, total of $298.00
Card Stock for books, $32.70 each