Stage 4: Disciplinary Thinking

Your turn: Solving crimes in biology class

Today we feature the work of Ms. Alexandra Fuentes, high school biology teacher in Washington, D.C. We admire how thoughtful Alexandra is about teaching her students to think like scientists and love seeing the new and exciting things that are going on in her classroom.

A few weeks ago, Alexandra’s students entered the classroom to find a crime scene:



And they received a letter from the Department of Justice asking them to solve the crime using forensic science and lab analysis of DNA evidence, a toxicology report, fingerprint analyses, ballistics analyses, and any other relevant evidence they could gather from the scene.

The will spend the rest of the quarter thinking like forensic scientists to solve this crime and present their hypotheses about what happened to expert panelists in a few weeks. They are collaborating in groups and as a whole class to figure out what they need to know and using their natural curiosity and mission to solve the crime as motivation to learn.


This is a problem-based learning unit. What a great way to drive disciplinary thinking in an engaging, real-world way! For some resources to think about trying this out with your class, check out this website:

Thanks, Alexandra!


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