R3: The Case of the Hip Hop Hijack is a middle school unit that we are piloting as a result of the teacher orientation activity:

Shortly after the new teacher orientation crime scene activity was conducted, I was approached (on separate occasions) by the mathematics and science departments about the possibility of translating the activity to the classroom. The mathematics supervisor was very interested in developing a real world, fun activity to expose grade 8 students to the graphing calculator. Additionally, she wanted to pilot the project with a group of low performing students. We all believed that if we captured their interest, we could get them to complete activities they would otherwise dismiss and/or struggle with. Finally, within science, we wanted to reinforce standards taught in our physical science course and generate interest in science opportunities available in high school and as careers.

The original plan was to incorporate all four core content areas in the pilot. As the complexity of the project grew, we decided to focus on the details of the crime and narrow our initial development to science, technology, and mathematics. Should the content areas wish to continue with the project, Phase II will include Language Arts and Social Studies. Suggestions for connections in those two content areas can be found in the NECC 2007 PowerPoint presentation linked on the bottom of this blog’s About the Mission page.

The Crime (for the complete details, refer to the Incident/Offense Report file linked in the case file section below):

  • Location = Churchland Middle School, Portsmouth, Virginia
  • Hip Hop group R3 (Righteously Respectful Rap) had just completed filming the music video for the title track on their upcoming CD The Authority of Wisdom.
  • At approximately 10:49PM on 5/27/07, sound engineer DeForest Lee, was assaulted in the Churchland Middle School kitchen.
  • The motive for the assault became apparent when the police arrived. A master CD ROM of the group’s upcoming album was stolen from the sound engineer.
  • Within 15 minutes of the crime, perpetrator’s demanding $2 million dollars be wired to an off shore account in the Cayman Islands within 48 hours or the album would be released free for download on the Internet.

We chose a case scenario that involved Hip Hop music because we knew it would be of interest to the students. The tricky part of the case design was coordinating simple, doable activities that would narrow down a list of suspects. We needed to make sure that crime could not be solved unless each activity was completed. Additionally, we had to coordinate which activities tooks place in each class on which day so as not to take students out of sequence or give anything away. Keep in mind, some students have science before mathematics each day and vice versa. Please refer to the  Lesson Table document to understand the schedule.

We wanted the students to have a unique take away at the end of the unit. Thus, the student case folder was born. The student case folder contained background information on the case and served as the storage location for all work done during the unit. We tried to make it as authentic looking as possible (while keeping costs to a minimum). The pictures below will give you a feel for the layout and design. The left side of the file contained the background info on the case. The items on the left side were the only items in the file when it was distributed to each student. The items on the right side of the file were added each day as labs/activities were completed in both math and science.

Case folder for each student:

Case file 2  Case file 3 CaseFile 7

Refer to the CSI Resources document to see what resources were used throughout the project and how they were distributed.

Items on the left side of the case file (as distributed in mathematics on Day 1) — item #1 would be the topmost item in the stack.

  1. Portsmouth Crime Unit  Incident report — details the crime and provides background information.
  2. Crime Scene Layout— (designed using the free version of Google SketchUp)
  3. Suspect Information —Suspects
  4. Forensics terms

Now that you have a feel for the background of the project and you have reviewed documents such as the Incident Report, Lesson Table, and CSI Resources, take a look at the Evidence-Solving Matrix for Teachers. This docusment shows you which suspect each piece of evidence points to and who the perpetrators are. Remember, this is for teacher use only! 

Next stop? The individual pages for Mathematics and Science Lesson Plans and Resources. (Note: these pages will be under construction through the first part of July as we are still debriefing and revising the project/lesson plans).

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