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Mission Possible is a favorite lab among students in my technical biology class. The idea of the project originated as the result of wondering what to do with leftovers. Remmnants of previous labs were beginning to accumulate in storage. The solution was Mission Possible which enables students to apply completed labs to a real life situation using a crime scenario that takes place on campus. Their mission, should the teams decide to accept, is to solve the crime using forensic lab techniques. Prior to the lab, students have an understanding of fingerprint analysis, blood typing, analysis of unknown drugs, hair analysis, fiber analysis and DNA gel electrophoresis techniques.

The students, who work in teams to solve the murder mystery, are given a crime scenario that places five school employees at the crime scene. The accused seem to enjoy being a part of the act as much as the students. Teams must obtain from these ever-so-willing to cooperate individuals their fingerprints and hair samples for microscopic analysis. A modus operandi sheet is completed. In the lab, teams must compare blood taken from the crime scene to the blood type of each suspect. An unknown powder is collected that must be analyzed. As the suspect list is narrowed with two suspects remaining, the DNA evidence is run using a gel electrophoresis to discover the murderer.

This lab is further extended with a team writing project which allows students to be creative in summarizing what took place the night of the crime. This project becomes interdisciplinary when the evidence is used to convict the accused during youth government day. Students enrolled in government classes become elected city officials for the day. Teachers are arrested, brought to trial for a crime and convicted or released of a fake felony using the evidence collected by the forensic teams.

Brief Summary: 50 minute class periods

  • Day 1: Receive lab, visit suspects to complete modus operandi and take pictures for scanning on back of report (5 suspects remain)
  • Day 2: Unknown Powder Lab Hair Lab (4 suspects-teacher must collect hair samples from all suspects prior to lab)
  • Day 3:
    • Blood Lab (3 suspects remain, one sample belongs to the victim)
    • Fiber Lab (same as blood lab, reinforces blood lab suspects)
  • Day 4: Electrophoresis Lab (2 suspects remain)


Lisa Robertson
Oxford High
Oxford, Alabama


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