Education

Project MICRO

 

 

Beanie BabyTM Mystery

Joe Neilly
MMMS Educational Outreach Chair
Sr. Microscopist, Abbott Laboratories
phone: (847)-938-5024
email: joe.neilly@abbott.com

 

Introduction

This is a hands on science activity that teaches children to compare and classify materials using low power microscopes or hand lenses. In this activity children will first characterize known reference powders. They will then examine an unknown powder on the back of a Beanie Baby and use their references to solve the mystery of ‘who borrowed the Beanie Baby.’ This mystery is ideally suited for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. I have done it late in the year with 2nd graders also.

 

Preparation

You will need to prepare one set of reference slides, gather one Beanie Baby and one hand lens or low power stereomicroscope, for each group of students in your class. You will also need some extra powder samples of sand, flour, salt, laundry soap, and oregano. Ideal group sizes are 3 or 4 students but 5 works well also.

Reference Slide Preparation
The reference slides can be easily made with construction paper, reference powders and transparent tape. Each set will have on slide each of salt, flour, laundry soap, sand, and oregano. A nice touch is to choose colors of construction paper that match the colors of the Beanie Babies you will use for your mystery. To make one set of reference slides (see Figure below):

  1. Cut five pieces of construction paper in rectangles 1" x 2 ".
  2. Punch 1 hole in each rectangle near one end of the paper.
  3. Cover the hole from one side with a piece of scotch tape.
  4. Sprinkle the exposed, sticky side of the tape in the hole with one of the reference powders.
  5. Write the name of the appropiate powder on the side of the construction paper that has the reference powder.

If the slides are stored in baggies they can be reused 3 or 4 times.

 

 

Teachers Guide for the Beanie Baby Mystery

The entire mystery should take approximately 45 minutes. Prior to class you should have one set of reference slides and copies of the Mystery, Mystery Clues, Mystery Instructions and Reference Slide Worksheets for each group in your class.

  1. Explain what a mystery is, and read the Beanie Baby Mystery and Clues to the class.
  2. Divide the class in to groups of 4-5 sudents per group.
  3. Using a hand lens, loupe or low power stereomicroscope (dissecting scope) have the students examine the reference powders. Please note: a compond microscope will NOT work for this mysterey since you cannot get a Beanie Baby on the stage and focus the scope. Have the children characterize each powder’s color, shape, texture and any other unique features ( ie. oregano will have many shapes and colors). They should fill out the worksheet as much as possible since this will make it easier to solve the mystery. This will be the most involved part of the mystery.
  4. After all of the reference powders have been characterized, give each group it’s Beanie Baby with one of the mystery powders rubbed onto its back. The mystery powder is one of the reference powders randomly chosen by you. It helps to add the powder just before they are passed out since handling them may knock off much of the powder. If you choose to do this before class, put the Beanies someplace safe where they won’t get disturbed. Also, tell the children to handle them carefully so they don’t disturb ‘the evidence’. Use a different powder for each group if possible.
  5. After each group solves the mystery, have each group choose a spokesperson to go in front of the class and explain what powder was on their Beanie, how they know what the powder is, and Who Borrowed the Beanie Baby!

 

Who Borrowed the Beanie Baby?

The Mystery

Five Beanie Babies that belonged to a second grade class mysteriously disappeared last night. This morning they were returned but had some strange dirt and spots on them. All of the students liked the Beanies. However, five students stayed in class after school the night the Beanies disappeared. They are suspects and might have borrowed the Beanie Babies. This is what the five students did after they left the classroom.

 

The Clues

 

Mystery Instructions

  1. Read the Mystery carefully.
  2. Study the clues. Read them very carefully.
  3. Examine your reference powders. Fill out the worksheet for each reference slide.
  4. Examine your Beanie Baby. What clues are on the Beanie? Do you see any familiar powders? Can you tell where the Beanie might have been? Do you know who borrowed the Beanie Baby?
Team Color: Beanie Name:

Team Names:






Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Powder:

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Draw Picture Here

Color:

Shape:

Size:

Texture:

Other:

Mystery Powder on Beanie
Draw Picture Here

What is the mystery powder on Beanie:






Who borrowed this Beanie?