Cookie Jar Mystery - Tools for Teaching

Cookie Jar Mystery - Tools for Teaching

To help your teachers get off to a great start, Community Learning has created the following tutorials that demonstrate activity set-ups.


Lesson 1: Heads Up - Observation Skills

You can't believe your eyes or can you? Budding CSI investigators love to explore the challenge of visual memory and eyewitness testimony in this activity of "Did You See That?"

Take your time as you work through and discussing the two activities in this lesson. It is important that an adult is prearranged to come help out with activity 1. Make sure that you confirm this in advance. This lesson is a great opportunity to talk with students about being detailed scientific observers.


Watch a crime!  Be a witness!  Then test your eyewitness skills with a crime scene quiz.

Play interactive memory and observation games .  Try “Spot the Difference”, “Test Your Memory”, and “Power of Observation”.

Lesson 2: Think Ink - Ink Chromatography

The telltale composition of ink can help CSIs identify the perpetrator when students make their own ink chromatographs. Easy-to-follow instructions lead the way in your classroom's forensics laboratory.

The ink analysis lesson is one of the more laboratory based lessons in this program. Instructors are advised to try the chromatography experiment ahead of time in order to be fully prepared for problems and questions that students may run into. 


Watch a video demonstration of the paper chromatography experiment.

Learn more about how chromatography works.

Lesson 3: The White Stuff - White Substance and Toxicology

Take a powder, please! Students get a closer look at the differences in white substances (Of course they're all non-toxic!) and at the world of poison science in this riveting research.

This lesson requires some extra “set-up” before it begins. Read through the set-up instructions carefully. The white powders lesson is also a great place to talk about lab safety. 


What do you know about poisons

Learn a poison prevention song!

Take a tour to learn about chemicals around your house.  

Lesson 4: Pull Some Strings - Fiber Analysis

Can scientific analysis of fibers help identify our thief? Students use hand magnifying lenses to get up close and personal with fiber analysis, and learn to distinguish between class evidence and direct (conclusive) evidence.

Have students practice using the tweezers and hand lenses before you begin the activity. 


Increase your knowledge about types of fibers by looking at microscopic images and diagrams.

Learn more about types of cloth and fibers from Science Olympiad.  

Lesson 5: Hair We Go - Hair Samples

Who knew hair could be so complex? In this activity, can our junior gumshoes match a hair sample to the correct suspect? This absorbing inquiry will have students scratching their heads (and plucking their own hair!) as they delve deeper into the Cookie Jar Mystery.


Investigate the case of “The Strange Flashlight” with the FBI.

Learn more about hair analysis and look at hair structure diagrams from Science Olympiad.

Lesson 6: Follow the Grain - Pollen Analysis

Achoo! Pollen as evidence? Learners explore another form of trace evidence that often tells where something happened. Students do the legwork in the field as they practice with this essential tool.

Now that they have analyzed several pieces of evidence, students should fine tune their evidence handling and magnifying lens techniques in this lesson. 


Find out if you can expect pollen trouble in your state today!

See how pollen helps us understand insect migration.

See some microscopic pictures of pollen.

Learn how pollens are Nature’s Tiny Clues.  

Lesson 7: Make an Impression - Bite Marks

Surprisingly simple materials provide all you need for another great lesson in comparing and contrasting for students to "sink their teeth into."

This is a lesson in which you might want to practice the sequence of making bite marks and recording the data so that you have a “working example” to show your students. 


Check out some weird facts about teeth.

Learn more about Forensic Dentistry.

Lesson 8: Bloody Brilliant - Blood Types

Of course, it's not real blood - but we do provide blood evidence substitute that encourages learners to handle evidence just like genuine CSI laboratory technicians. This lesson in blood typing provides a great jump start for future scientists, geneticists and crime scene detectives.

This lesson provides another look at an actual forensics lab technique. Instructors may want to practice the experiment before demonstrating it to students.


Read an introduction to blood groups and blood typing.

What is blood?  Learn about how your body makes blood and what is really in there.

Take a closer look at human blood cells through a microscope.

Lesson 9: One of a Kind - Fingerprint Evidence

Oh, the things we leave behind! Everything you always wanted to know about whorls and ridges, fingerprinting technique and more with authentic Ten Cards for each student to make a record of his/her prints.

It is a good idea to try this experiment ahead of time as well. A “working example” of a Ten Card will be important to have while explaining the instructions to students. 


See more about fingerprint classification.

Watch some videos about developing latent prints.

Read more about fingerprint patterns.

Lesson 10: Crack the Code - DNA

Learning to unravel the mystery of our genetic code is revealed in this straightforward explanation and lesson helps learners narrow the field of suspects.

Instructors are advised to read and completely understand this lesson before teaching it. DNA is a complex subject—but helping students understand it will go much more easily if you understand DNA yourself! 


Read how DNA evidence can be used to free people who have been wrongly convicted.

Engage in an interactive lab to determine  a culprit based on DNA fingerprinting.

Learn more about DNA and forensics.

See what an actual DNA gel electrophoresis experiment looks like.

Lesson 11: Let's Talk - Questioning Our Suspects

A lie detector isn't the only way of getting at the truth! In this lesson, our junior CSI detectives learn the meaning of the "norm" and how knowing the norm helps sort truth tellers from liars. Students also return to the "scene of the crime" for another look.

Students will need to use their detective skills to notice small details about the suspects’ statements. They should be encouraged to take their time reading and to re-read the statements several times. 


Learn about statement analysis skills.

Have you ever wondered how a lie detector works?

Learn how to tell if someone is being less than truthful.

Lesson 12: Who Dunnit? - Examining & Analyzing All the Evidence

Means, motive and opportunity all come together in this culminating activity that encourages students to put all of the puzzle pieces together and finally solve the Cookie Jar Mystery!

Critical thinking gets a workout in Lesson 12. As you work, remind students that what they are doing in analysis is the same sort of thing they do in preparing an essay or writing a report: they gather disparate pieces of information and try to put it into a coherent whole. This activity really tests brainpower and creativity. When the course is completed and the crime has been solved, don’t hesitate to issue a “Crime Investigator’s License” to your students. 


Find some interesting kids mystery book authors.

Watch a video about the jobs of forensic scientists.

Watch a forensics video about a birthday party mystery.

Learn more about the basics of crime scene investigation.

Explore other science topics with The Black Hole Gang

Check out many more forensics links.