A crime has been committed and someone has broken into the bookstore at the Prairie Heights Middle School.
The sixth grade students have been investigating who was responsible and have just completed the student-run trial to see if Gabe Reed would be found guilty or not.
For a couple of weeks, the students have undergone a unit where all of the teachers cooperate with a CSI unit and they all work together to investigate, report, and solve the crime.
To start, there was a database collected of students’ strides and fingerprints. Then the crime was committed and the students went to the crime scene.
They ran a full investigation, wrote the crime scene report, and even had the opportunity to write a news story about the crime. The experience that the students were getting was as close to a real life investigation that they could get.
Students were taught that the shows like CSI and NCIS are not the best representation of how crimes are actually solved. One main thing that is different is that only three pieces of evidence are allowed to be sent in for investigation, and the students had to decide which evidence was going to be the best to use.
The students were able to link the crime to Gabe Reed, who had a screwdriver found in his locker. They checked the evidence in and kept it in an evidence locker.
Reed and the students practiced the Fifth Amendment. He was considered innocent until proven guilty and was then taken to trial by the sixth grade class.
The trial was run entirely by the students in each social studies class. They had a full courtroom experience and were held to the same court standards.
The CSI unit allows for the students to see all of their classes working together. They are able to apply one class to the next and see how what they are learning now could work together in the future.
Mike Travis and Celia Motz went to a workshop a couple of years ago where they were able to develop the project-based learning unit. It is the second year of teaching students with the CSI program.
“I think the kids really enjoy it,” said Motz. “They wear their little CSI badges.”
The teachers noted how the unit was something that the students talk about socially. They said that the kids enjoyed talking about the crime and the evidence and trying to figure out who did it.