Young detectives investigating the fictious case of a prize-winning dog that went missing from its owner’s home have scoured the mock crime scene for clues.
The secondary school students have been tasked with cracking ‘The Case of the Disappearing Doberman’ as part of the 3M Young Innovators Challenge 2019.
This year, a record 24 teams, comprising 120 students from 10 schools across Leicestershire and South Nottinghamshire, are taking part in the competition’s Science Detectives Challenge.
Working in teams of three to five, the Year 8, 9 and 10 students’ job is to investigate the disappearance of Dobby, winner of the 2018 Woofs International Dog Show.
Initially, the students were briefed about how Dobby’s owner, renowned dog breeder Caroline Barker-Hall, had been hosting a dinner party at home on the night of the suspected crime, making each guest a potential suspect.
On 24 and 25 January, the students then visited 3M’s research and development laboratories in Loughborough, where meeting rooms had been transformed into three areas of the ‘crime scene’ – the party area, Caroline’s home office and the outdoor kennel.
Wearing CSI-style coveralls and other 3M personal protective equipment, they gathered photographic evidence and clues.
In 3M’s research laboratories, they then analysed some of the specimens they had found using gas chromatography and infrared spectroscopy, with help from the company’s scientific experts.
Dr Sarah Benskin, head of science at East Leake Academy, one of the schools taking part in the challenge for the first time, said: “It was a great experience that really helped develop their scientific thinking in an interesting and engaging context.”
Julie Owen, communications manager at 3M’s Loughborough site, said: “The Science Detectives Challenge is always one of the most popular categories in the 3M Young Innovators Challenge, but we’ve been especially thrilled with the record involvement we’ve seen this year.
“The teams all did a great job investigating the crime scene and analysing the evidence, and were really engaged, which was wonderful to see.
“We look forward to hearing their conclusions in May. This is a difficult case to crack, but with the region’s best minds on the case, we have every confidence that justice will be served!”