A 'whodunnit' mystery tests New Richmond HS students’ learning

Students in the one-semester forensics class taught by Logan Minning raced against time to solve a whodunnit mystery for their final semester grade.

A pillow for a body, legs made from duct tape, the fictional “Kay Oss” seemed an unlikely homicide victim.

Yet, there she was in a puddle of red goo on the floor of a New Richmond High School storage space. There she remained for well-over one week as students in the one-semester forensics class taught by Logan Minning raced against time to solve this whodunnit mystery and earn a good final grade. 

The suspects in the case were high school teachers. All assumed the identities of people involved in the fictional crime.

To solve the mystery, Minning’s students worked in teams. They freely explored the school as they interviewed suspects, searched for clues and thoroughly investigated. 

The course is popular with students.

Senior Alex Senter had his pick of electives this year. Forensics was on his shortlist.

“It seemed like a pretty interesting class to take,” he said. “I thought I’d learn a few good things from it.”

He’s’ not been disappointed. The course, rooted in STEM learning, has served him well he said, as he prepares to attend Northern Kentucky University next fall to focus on his future as a math teacher.

The curiosity of junior Ruth Tvrdy was piqued last school year when she watched forensic class students dashing around the hallways trying to solve their mystery.

“They said they were taking their forensics exam, and it looked like a lot of fun so I wanted to try it out,” she said. “And now that I’ve gotten more into it, I’ve learned there’s stuff you can do with math in here. So I might want to go into a math-related forensics career.”

Forensics is not a new subject at New Richmond High School. It’s been around for at least a decade.

Minning, whose stepfather is a state police officer, developed the class curriculum after being tapped to teach a county class for gifted students.

“We used to have kids come from all over the county, and I taught it as a gifted, mini session. Then it morphed in response to a need for more electives at New Richmond High School,” Mining said.

Some years the New Richmond class is offered through College Credit Plus giving students the opportunity to earn college credit.

The class is lab intense, Minning said.

“We take notes for a day, then do hands-on activities for the next four or five days,” she said. “Then we come back, talk about it, take a few more notes then go back and do more activities.”

At the end of the course, students have the opportunity to put to use all of the knowledge they gained over the course of the semester as they complete their final project. For their final grade, they present the findings of their investigation.

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