When I was a child I had two favourite books. One was a children’s guide to being a spy and the second which was a guide to being a detective. Full of tips and techniques, these two books pretty much summed up what my career aspirations were when I was about 8 and to be honest I’d be pretty happy with either of those jobs now too. If someone had handed me this Ravensburger CSI set (part of their Science X range) then I think I would have probably exploded with excitement. As it is even as an adult it is pretty fantastic.
Developed by Mark Benecke, a German crime biologist and specialist in foresnsic entomology, the CSI kit really is packed full of activities that children can undertake to help them understand how crime scientist really work in the field and how they go about trying to solve crimes. The kit itself includes several things to help you in your quest (safety glasses, tweezers, tape measure, evidence bags etc) but in my mind the most valuable thing in there is the book which explains all about crime scene investigation and sets out the 12 activities for children to undertake.
For each activity there are very clear steps as to what to do and also why you are doing it. There are “tips from the pro” and also statements from Mark Benecke himself about certain things. I actually found his description of why he developed the crime scene card that is included in the kit fascinating. As a means of understanding the scale and colour of something that is photographed at a crime scene it is excellent.
The activities range from simple ones of collecting evidence and taking fingerprints right through to taking an impression of a footprint. The most far fetched has to be determining the time of the crime which involves leaving a tin of cat or dog food out in different weather conditions and monitoring flies and their larvae on the food over time. Pretty gruesome stuff but also very realistic. Possibliy not an experiment for the feint hearted though!
I thought this kit was absolutely fantastic and an excellent way of introducing a child to crime scene investigation and the role of science in doing so. If the accomanying instruction books in the other kits in the range are as good then they would make excellent resources for any child with an interest in science. As someone with a degree in electronics and a strong interest in how we teach science and engineering to children, I’m particularly keen to get my hands on the Electronics and Circuitry set to give it a good road test. Is it too soon to write a birthday wish list?
Disclaimer: I was sent a Ravensburger Science X Crime Scene Investigation kit to review.