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In this scientific method lesson, students analyze prepared trash to find evidence of a crime







Title – Trash to Treasure
By – Staycle Duplichan
Primary Subject – Science
Grade Level – 9th grade Physical Science

Standards Addressed: Louisiana Framework
(Foundation skills, strands, and Benchmarks)




      2-problem solving


      3-resource access and utilization,


      4-linking and generating knowledge



Science Standards and Benchmarks 9-12

      Science as Inquiry: The students will do science by engaging in partial and full inquiries that are within their developmental capabilities.


      SI-H-A2 designing and conducting scientific investigations; (1,2,3,4,5)


      SI-H-A4 formulating and revising scientific explanations and models using logic and evidence; (1,2,3,4)

Language Arts Standards and Benchmarks 9-12

      Standard Three Students communicate using standard English grammar, usage, sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and handwriting.


      ELA-3-H1 writing legibly; (1,4)


      ELA-3-H2 using the grammatical and mechanical conventions of standard English; (1,4,5)


      ELA-3-H3 spelling accurately using strategies and resources (e.g., glossary, dictionary, thesaurus, spell check) when necessary. (1,3,4)
      Standard Four Students demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning and communicating.


      ELA-4-H1 speaking intelligibly, using standard English pronunciation and diction; (1,4)


    ELA-4-H6 participating in a variety of roles in group discussion (e.g., active listener, contributor, discussion leader, facilitator, recorder, mediator). (1,4,5)

General Goal(s):
Students analyze prepared trash to find evidence of a crime. The general goal is to demonstrate how to investigate using problem solving.

Specific Objectives:

      1 – Students will analyze prepared trash.


      2 – Students will construct a pretend family model.


    3 – Students will present their findings to the class.

Required Materials: Teacher prepared trash.

      Possible ideas:
      1 – a bag of baby bottles, diaper bags, toy packages, tickets to family outings, pet supplies


      family profile: a couple with a baby


      2 – work clothes, tool belt, boxes from a mechanic shop, men’s magazines,


      family profile: a single working man


      3 – empty medicine bottles, empty lotion bottles, cassette of an older music groups,


      family profile: an elderly couple


      4 – school supply packages, cleaning packages, tickets to family outings, pet supplies, vacation brochures


      family profile: a big family with school age children


      5 – empty men’s cologne, tie, empty sports drink bottle


      family profile: a single man with a office job


      6 – diner receipts, movie receipts, vacation brochures,


      family profile: a couple without children
    Other various items: rope, mask, gloves, cleaning items, rental car flyers, hotel information, missing person’s flyers

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In): This activity could follow a lesson on the Scientific Method.

Related Web Pages:

      Experimental Science Projects:


      Steps in the Scientific Method


      by Lambert Dolphin

      The Scientific Method Step-By-Step Procedures:

Day 1

      Discuss the steps of the scientific method. Ask the students to brainstorm different ways of collecting evidence.

Day 2

      Set up the activity by explaining to the student’s that there has been a carjacking near the school. Students go through trash and answer the following questions:
      1 – What is the family profile? Married, single, children


    2 – Could this trash show evidence of a crime?

Day 3

      The students present their pretend family profile to the class.


    The class discusses if they agree with the family profile. The class also discusses if there is any evidence to show a crime.

Extension ideas:

      1 – Ask someone from the Police Force to discuss detective work as a career.


    2 – Buy fingerprint kits from any science company. Have the students analyze fingerprints from the trash.

Plan For Independent Practice:
The students could research how crimes are investigated.

Closure (Reflect Anticipatory Set):
The closure would be the discussion that follows Day 2.

Adaptations (For Students With Learning Disabilities):

      * Teacher will model and repeat directions when needed.


      * Hands on activities will be performed by the students to reinforce the lesson.


    * Directions will be read out loud before the students break up into groups.

Extensions (For Gifted Students):
Students will be allowed to use the library to extend their learning on any topic that interest them.

Possible Connections To Other Subjects:
The English class can read a Sherlock Holmes or any mystery book.

Personal Note:
I have used this activity for many years with different classes. I do not place specific evidence that would lead to a specific crime in each bag. I allow the students to use their imagination. Every group has found evidence to support a crime! Different classes will look at the same trash and find evidences for different crimes.

It did take time to collect the trash. I gave different family members and businesses a bucket and asked them to throw away trash that would support this activity. Everybody wants to help when it comes to school!

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