Reviewed by Cary Seidman
Many science teachers struggle to provide relevance regarding sometimes arcane science topics. In chemistry, authors Sara McCubbins and Angela Codron address this challenge. This unified, well–constructed resource book includes concepts such as Beer’s Law, electrochemistry, stoichiometry, and similarly advanced subjects.
The theme of Forensics in Chemistry is an unsolved murder, “The Case of Kirsten K.,” and students pursue the solution. They begin with the report of a disappearance and proceed through the many aspects of forensic science involved in scientific investigation of the physical evidence surrounding a crime scene. The familiar elements of a murder case are on display here with a variety of clues and suspects such as the victim’s husband, a local plumber, and neighbor. As they delve further into the case, students see the value of a thorough and well–documented lab report as they sift through the voluminous crime scene data.
Some of the labs, such as thin layer chromatography, will be familiar to chemistry teachers and students, but several will be new experiences for most classes. Either way, the placement of the labs within the plot of the mystery will lend energy and enthusiasm to what might otherwise be an unrelated sequence of chemistry labs. Clearly, students should not expect to solve The Case of Kirsten K. in one or two class periods. The activities and skill development will extend for many weeks, and students will see relationships among different chemistry concepts as well as their practical applications.
Loaded with pertinent background information and interesting activities, Forensics in Chemistry combines the best aspects of a lab manual and a textbook. Most significantly, the authors integrate an impressive array of chemical concepts, lab techniques, and data analysis into a clever and engaging narrative.
Review posted on 6/13/2012