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Accidental Drowning or Foul Play?



Author:

Monika I. Konaklieva
Department of Chemistry
American University
mkonak@american.edu

Abstract:

This case was developed for use in the first semester of a sophomore organic chemistry laboratory to illustrate how a combination of techniques is usually required in the identification of chemical compounds. It involves a murder mystery with a forensic twist. Students are told that two bodies have recently been recovered from two different lakes. Due to a mix-up at the morgue, the coroner’s office is unable to determine which body came from which lake. The students’ task is to develop a methodology to solve this mystery as well as determine whether the deaths were the result of murder or mishap.  The case could also be used in instrumental analysis courses or adapted for a non-majors course in the general education curriculum.

Objectives:
  • Stimulate students’ interest in organic chemistry.
  • Acquaint students with the basics of compound identification.
  • Acquaint students with the importance of safe handling of different type of samples.
Keywords: Thin layer chromatography; organic extraction; chemical compound identification
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Laboratory
Language: English
Subject Headings: Organic Chemistry   Analytical Chemistry   Chemistry (General)   Forensic Science  
Date Posted: 05/26/04
Date Modified:
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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