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Go Back to Mystery Home 'Yellow Jackie' - A Science Mystery Story Page Title

For Teachers

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 themes.

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).

Two: 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.

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?

The narrative itself is fictional, but the scenario is based on actual events and contemporary science research and discoveries.


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 www.sciencemystery.com.

To see the other science mysteries available at Access Excellence, visit the Mystery Spot: www.accessexcellence.org/AE/mspot

We hope you enjoy the mystery! To return to the story,
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