WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
You, the reader, are a medical investigator working for Dr. Susan Lydell.
As a blackout paralyzes the city, you are called in to investigate an
outbreak of a new disease. You must take steps to identify how it's
transmitted, characterize it (virus? bacterium? fungus?), and figure
out how to treat it.
"The Blackout Syndrome" is a four-part mystery. It takes an
average reader about 20 minutes to get to the "solve-it" page
of each episode, and 20 minutes or so to read the thrilling Conclusion.
Medical science, biology, microbiology; emphasis on microbiology and
human health. You learn about disease outbreaks, pathogens, Gram stain,
control groups and hemophobia. The mystery tests literacy, problem solving
skills and deductive reasoning.
Blackout Syndrome" science mystery has three Episodes and a Conclusion.
(It originally appeared as a four-part Serial Mystery, live on the Web.)
In the first Episode, you investigate the homes of people that have
fallen ill, looking for a common thread that leads back to the origin
of the mysterious disease. In the second Episode, you test the disease
in a lab, in order to determine what sort of pathogen it is. When you
solve this part, you enter the third Episode, where you must determine
which of the anti-pathogenic agents you have on hand would be the best
to counter the disease. Finally, you read the Conclusion, which concludes
the story and gives you links for further research into the story themes.
The storyline varies for each student, depending
on the choices that student makes. For example: early in the story,
if your students don't solve the mystery correctly, they are given a
second chance as the story seamlessly brings them more information about
the origins of the mysterious disease.
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 pen and pencil
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 "The Allinger
Apartment ," "The Belindo House," "Disease Facts," 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 "The Blackout Syndrome" 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's first Episode during a class period.
Some teachers solve the mystery as a class; others allow students to
solve the mystery's first part and continue the mystery in subsequent
classes or on their own.
Many teachers use the science mysteries
to engage advanced students, especially those who may normally shun
We welcome your feedback.
To read teacher comments about the science mysteries, visit www.sciencemystery.com.
To see the other science mysteries
available at Access Excellence, visit the Mystery Spot: www.accessexcellence.org/AE/mspot