A mystery is afoot!
A group of 72 Central Gwinnett HS students recently put their forensics studies to the test solving hands-on mysteries during a field trip to Three Keys, an escape game venue in Suwanee. Students had to beat the clock to solve the timed mysteries. The themed escape games require participants to work as a team to solve the puzzle in 60 minutes or less. Some scenarios have an historical setting, while others involve secret agents or tackle a literary mystery.
Dr. Tiffany Thai says that her students actually studied the famous fictional detective in the classroom before trying to solve the Sherlockian mystery. The Academic Knowledge and Skills (AKS) curriculum for Forensics explores the application of science to the law and the concept of deductive reasoning. Dr. Thai says her students learned how early forensic scientists studied crime scene clues to solve cases, showing that deductive reasoning was a powerful tool for solving crimes. In fact, in his Sherlock Holmes novels, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle predicted many of the ways in which forensics would develop into the science we know today.
During the field trip, groups of students were assigned to each of the “escape” rooms and each room held a unique scenario involving a crime or mystery. In one, Sherlock Holmes is missing but he’s left clues for Watson (and the students) to follow to find his location. In another, intrepid explorers must avoid deadly traps and solve a mystery to escape a secret chamber. Magician Harry Houdini is trapped in an airtight coffin by a rival and the clock’s ticking for the students to find the clues to save him. And two mysteries involve espionage and the world of spies.
The students had the opportunity to use their own deductive reasoning and tried-and-true forensic techniques to search, isolate, collect, and record physical and trace evidence as they worked to solve their assigned mystery. LaPrecious, a Central Gwinnett junior, says she liked learning what detectives have to do to solve cases and enjoyed the experience outside of a classroom setting. That was echoed by Adrian, a senior, who liked the hands-on nature of the tasks.
Dr. Thai says that the field trip reinforced learning about the AKS, helping students hone their skills in crime scene analysis because they had to search for clues that weren't apparent. “We had to find clues linking the criminal to the crime and decipher codes to exit the room,” she says. In addition, students worked side by side with teens they didn’t know well, ensuring that everyone developed their skills working as a team.
By the end of the hour, the students had gathered clues, made deductions, and solved their respective mysteries, including the case of the missing detective.
How did they do it?
Elementary, dear Watson.