Who do you believe? Five teachers volunteered to play the roles of suspects in the biology class mystery. Top row: Mme Clashman and Ms. Cain; bottom row: Ms. Barnett, Mr. Carlson, and Mr. Ma.

Biology students solve "murder mystery"

 A victim is found on the bike path and the only apparent clue to her demise is a pool of vomit. Tucson forensic detectives need help. Who do they call? Ms. Jill Vidoni’s Upper School biology students, of course!

Weaving together laboratory work, internet research, and information gleaned from suspect testimonies, the class began to solve the crime. “Students were given a hypothetical sample of ‘vomit,’” Ms. Vidoni explained. Their charge was to run qualitative tests to find all the biomolecules (lipids, proteins and carbohydrates) that they have been learning about in class.

In conjunction with testing the substance, students were told that the victim had recently dined at one of three restaurants. Using the restaurant websites and various dietary and nutrition sites, students pieced together which foods at which restaurants matched the biomolecule composition of their “vomit” sample. This brings in an additional aspect to what students discovered through this project: “It’s interesting for the students to learn what is actually in the food they eat, in terms of sugar, protein, etc.” Ms. Vidoni said.

As the third component of the project, faculty members volunteered to be suspects, filming themselves making statements for the students to analyze and categorize as it applied to their data. “An added benefit of the project is that it really gets everyone in school involved,” Ms. Vidoni said. “In Mr. Carlson’s advisory, everyone was talking about his role as our detective.”

“Besides having fun, students have to use some critical thinking to solve this mystery,” Ms. Vidoni said. “They have to use the information they’ve learned in class and apply it to putting the pieces together like a puzzle.”

Thank you to Ms. Vidoni and her volunteer suspects for helping TGS biology students apply their knowledge in creative and unexpected ways!


3231 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson, AZ 85712
Phone: (520) 327-6395
Fax: (520) 327-8276
The Gregory School is an independent, private,
non-profit 501(C)(3), coed day school for grades 5-12.