Who Stole the Doughnuts? An Interdisciplinary Forensics Unitby: Stephanie Boles

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There was a doughnut thief loose and the students were determined to put their science skills to use to track down the culprit. They would use forensic science to eliminate suspects and identify the thief who stole the doughnuts. School staff take on the role of the likely suspects. It was their goal to develop an interdisciplinary unit that engaged students as critical thinkers, communicators, and investigators. It was successful in this regard.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Sun May 01, 2011 4:54 PM

This article is designed for middle school students. It is carefully written so that a teacher never having implemented this type of investigation would have all of their questions answered. It is a huge endeavor, but with the help of colleagues, it can be an awesome project. This project can also become one that is done every year, becoming a tradition. The skills used by the students to solve for each clue, are ones that we as teachers are always trying to have our students master, but often when taught in a classroom situation, they are given very little effort by the student. Another positive point about this project is, what do you do if your school has just finished its state testing and you still want a strong science program-not just some curriculum to fill in the remaining time before school is out. If you have the time, support of your fellow teachers, and want the students to be fully engaged in solving the mystery you have created...try this project.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:54 PM

This article give a very detailed description of a unit a sixth grade teacher did with her classes. It was a forensics investigation of a doughnut theft in her school. It took a total of 12 class hours and was done at the end of the year after testing was over.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:54 AM

CSI units are often in student’s media views and this article is a great case study of how to involve students in real science in ‘real’ life situations. A general method is described and some worksheets are offered but the strength of the article emerges in the community contacts the students establish and the way that they take the study into their homes and out of the classroom. I would use this article as a motivating agent to design a personal CSI case study for my classroom and also try to integrate gathering and analyzing the data with some hand-held sensors if available. This article could be the start of something of great interest to the students.

Patricia  (Arlington, VA)
Patricia (Arlington, VA)

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