Grade 5 Forensic Scientists

Rubber model of a Brachiosaurus; it's classroom name is Herb.“Where’s Herb!” Is all you heard when you walked into Mrs. Chiavarini’s room. Everyone was frightened, we all wanted Herb back! Whispers filled the air. We had to find Herb, our green Brachiosaurus.

We found a note that the culprit had written, which said “Don’t worry. Herb is in good hands.” It was written in black marker. We didn’t think Herb was in good hands, so we had to find out who took him!

Luckily, Mrs. Chiavarini knew the procedure. We made a list of suspects based on teachers who have been acting suspicious and were still in their classroom during lunch. It was a long list but we narrowed it down to three suspects. The suspects were Mrs. Angelus because she told a student the day before “I’ll be acting suspicious soon.” Mr. Wadness walked in looking and playing with Herb. Miss Varley walked in and said in front of the class, “I like stealing things.”

Mrs. Chiavarini took black markers off the three suspects’ desks. We ran a chromatography test on each of the black markers. Using a coffee filter we drew a line with each marker and dipped the filter in water. We ran the same test with the culprits’ note and the result was … Mrs. Angelus. We kindly asked her if she took Herb and why. Mrs. Angelus explained she was sketching a picture of Herb to help the second graders with their dinosaur projects. She told the class Herb was in good hands and Herb was in Mrs. Mclaughlin’s project room.

Now everyone is very glad that Herb is in safe hands. Cheers filled the room, not one frown on anyone’s face. Once again Forensic Science saves the day!

Do you know what “Forensic Science” is? Well, Chickering 5th graders know.

“Forensic Science is the scientific method of gathering and examining information about the past which is then used in a court of law.” [ 13 Nov 2014]

Atomic A teaches us about Forensic Science

We know this because Mrs. Antinellus [Atomic A],from the Natick Labs, came to our school to teach us about C.S.I. [Crime Scene Investigation].

We wondered what Atomic A likes about her job as a Forensic Science teacher and what is fun about her job. We  asked Atomic A if she had heard of any interesting cases that used Forensic Science to solve them. She said in a ‘hit and run’ accident, they can go back and test the paint on the car that has been left on the other car from being hit. If there is a murder case, the Forensic Scientist uses a blood sample to check DNA, which is compared to a suspect’s’ DNA.

Everybody is having fun Finger Printing

Atomic A likes being an Forensic Science teacher because you can scan blood samples for DNA by a computer. We asked her what her favorite tool was. She likes the DNA test because almost any case can be solved with it. We asked if she always wanted to be a science teacher. She always wanted to be a teacher not necessarily a science teacher. She said she has been a teacher for many years. She was a teacher for 3rd grade, pre-school and ESL [English as a Second Language]. Last we asked her what she liked least about being a Forensic Science teacher. She said her least favorite thing is carrying the heavy supplies to presentations.

All in all we learned that Forensic Science isn’t just science, it’s much more. It’s solving crimes, scanning blood samples, it’s finding crooks, but most importantly, uncovering evidence. Most of all, we think Forensic Science is one of the most appealing jobs in the world.

Reported by: Zach, Kristian and Max

CSI: Who dunit?

Are you a suspect? Did you steal the golden apple bell?

Sadly, the golden bell that Mrs. Power earned for being a teacher for 15 years was stolen. What we found at the crime scene was a ransom note, a hair sample, plus a hair clip. We sprang right into action! The fifth grade CSI investigation had just begun!

What was stolen? The bell is used by Mrs. Power to quiet her class down when they get too noisy. She is very upset that it’s missing.

Who are the suspects? We were assigned teachers to interview.  We asked “Were you a teacher here for 15 years? “Were you at Open House?” and “Were you in Mrs. Power’s room during Open House?” Since the teachers were all around the Two microscopes in the science lab used in the CSI, we went to meet them face-to-face. People who lie, tend to not look you in the eye or they stop talking; These are some ways to figure out if they are telling the truth. Based upon their answers and their behavior during the interview, we asked if we could borrow the suspect’s black pen or marker. Using the note left at the crime scene, we compared the pen or marker from each suspect.

Finally, we found out who did it! From our pen/note comparison, we narrowed it down to three suspects: Ms Varley, Ms Wood, and Mrs. Anzivino. We cut up the note and gave everybody a piece of the ransom note, then we took the pen we borrowed and we made a dot on a coffee filter. We put water on all the dots and the cut-up note. You would not believe whose dot matched the note! It was Ms.Varley!  With some additional clues, we figured that Ms Varley gave the stolen bell to Mrs. Anzivino. They were both guilty!

So it turns out we got our bell back, and we all got back to our normal lives. Moral: “Crime doesn’t pay!”

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Reported by Grace, Garrett, Carter, and Louis

Mystery in the 5th Grade Hall

     Windows open. Doors open. Muddy foot prints leading to the computer lab. The Fridge is left open! Where are the Ice cream sandwiches?

     The 5th grade has been doing a project on who stole the ice cream sandwiches to start their C.S.I Unit for science. They went into the lab and got started. Each class took turns in the lab to find the suspect. Each kid in each class had a data bar graph packet, which included instructions and identification of the suspects: all the 5th grade teachers and grade level aids. Each class split up in groups and looked at all the evidence they had and took notes on the data bar graph. The students would match the evidence to the suspect. There were a lot of different types of evidence that involved hair, lips, foot and finger prints, dirt that fell off the suspect’s shoes, and writing samples.  To prepare us for this unit, we spent some time with a forensic scientist, named Dr. Todd.

     We talked to Dr. Todd, who is a professor at M.I.T and is trying to find cures for cancer, small pox, and other diseases, and is trying to cure mice. He loves being a scientist. He’s been working at M.I.T. for about 15 years. He works in a biology lab with microscopes and the cells from these viruses. The toughest part of his job is trying to work with the mice to obtain their DNA. Using microscopes, he checks his progress toward finding a cure for these diseases. His job is something he has wanted to do ever since he was a kid. We were curious about what some of the students enjoyed about this science unit.

We asked students what their favorite category was in CSI, fingerprints, hair samples, lip samples, handwriting, etc. A lot of the students liked fingerprints because it was what real scientists do. Other people liked hair samples because it was really hard to figure out.

We asked the students how they felt when Flynn (our class caterpillar stuffed toy) was stolen. Lots of the kids thought it was mysterious; others were worried about him being missing because he is very well liked.

We asked the students what they thought was the most interesting part in this unit. Some kids thought the thrilling thought of Flynn being stolen was the best part, other kids thought the huge investigation was fun with the fingerprints and the hair samples etc, the rest just liked it all! 

This was obviously a fun and exciting unit!

Reported by Mitchell, Nick, Iona and Sara

CSI Chickering

Sample of items students saw upon entering their "CSI" Lab.

Sample of items students saw upon entering their "CSI" Lab.

Did you know that there was a CSI Investigation going on? The week of September 8th the upstairs lab turned into a CSI lab! The goal of this unit was to learn process skills which are part of the scientific method.  As the students first walked into the lab they were surprised to see a crime lab laid out before them.  The fifth graders saw caution tape surrounding the stations. The students also saw footprints hanging on the white board and fingerprints on the counter. Next to the lip print station, microsopes were used to  investigate hair samples. On the other side of the room, there were teeth impressions near the dusting for fingerprints station. The students were divided into groups and they rotated through the 6 evidence stations.

The students were handed a piece of paper with about ten suspects, who were various teachers that work at Chickering School. The students were brought to the lab and compared evidence from the crime scene to samples from suspects. Each student was asked to write a conclusion for each evidence station based on their observations. Then as a class they compared differences and similarities. Following this discussion, they  had discovered that there was not one conclusive suspect.

There was a buzz in the fifth grade classrooms because the students were surprised that the evidence was inconclusive.


Thank you to Connor C., Madeline S., Luke T., Sean D., and A.J. R.

Here are some student thoughts about the new CSI Unit.


Thank you to Isabelle W., Zoe O., Hayden S., Annie G., and Isobel M.

Since the CSI Unit was new this year, we decided to ask the fifth grade students if we should keep it or not.


Thank you to Lauren B., Jacquelyn P., Hannah L., Sadie H., and Eric F.

Finally, we asked the teachers the purpose for teaching the new CSI Unit.


Thank you to Ms Varley, Mrs. Lowenstein, Ms Yorston, Ms Dionisio, and Mrs. Chiavarini.

reported by:

Virginia D., Dana R., Winnie M., Alex D., and Adam B.