WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
You, the reader, are helping a man named Terry to sail a yacht from South
America to New Zealand. You are called in to investigate an outbreak of
disease on board a second yacht. Three crewpeople on the second yacht
have recently fallen ill. You interview the crew members, consult a medical
reference, and observe other clues to determine what diseases the ill
crew members have.
Medical science, sports science, human health, biology, microbiology,
infectious diseases, epidemiology, and hygiene. The mystery tests literacy,
problem solving skills and deductive reasoning.
The "Yellow Jackie" science mystery has three parts. In the
first part, you meet the characters and enter the story. In the second
part, you interview the characters, investigate the facts, and attempt
to solve the case. When you solve the case, you enter the third part,
which concludes the story, summarizes the scientific analysis you did
to solve the case, and gives you links for further research into the story
The story has two interactive features.
One: two storylines. Early
in the story, your students are given a choice: they can remain on board
their yacht or go aboard the second yacht. The story plays out in different
ways depending on the choice the reader makes (although the available
facts remain the same).
an interactive hint structure is built into the solve-it mechanism. If
you pick an incorrect solution, the story gives you constructive hints
about evidence you overlooked and sends you back to do more research.
It takes an average reader about 30-40 minutes to get to the first "solve-it"
page, and 20 minutes or so to solve the mystery and read the Epilog.
SOLVING THE MYSTERY
Teachers can assist students in mastering the problem-solving skills necessary
to solve a science mystery. Some basic techniques:
- You should have a pencil and paper at your side, to
take notes as you go through the story.
- You should organize and label your notes as you go,
under broad categories such as "Kerry's Symptoms," "Disease
Symptoms," "Disease Progression," "Events"
and so on.
- Evaluate your information. Is this a fact or an opinion?
IS IT TRUE SCIENCE?
The narrative itself is fictional, but the scenario is based on actual
events and contemporary science research and discoveries.
HOW DO TEACHERS
USE THIS MYSTERY?
Science mysteries such as "Yellow Jackie" integrate science
learning within an exciting narrative. They have wide appeal and are thus
well-suited to be a class activity.
Typically a teacher will have students read and discuss
the mystery during a class period. Some teachers solve the mystery as
a class; others allow students to solve the mystery and do continuing
research on their own.
Many teachers use the science mysteries to engage advanced
students, especially those who may normally shun science.
We welcome your
feedback. To read teacher comments about the science mysteries, visit
To see the other science mysteries available at Access
Excellence, visit the Mystery Spot: www.accessexcellence.org/AE/mspot