The University of Southampton

Blood on the kitchen floor - a murder mystery for Science Week

Published: 2 March 2009

A celebrity chef has been murdered – Who did it? How? and Why? - In an innovative and imaginative event for National Science and Engineering Week, schoolchildren in Southampton will be asked to solve the mystery.

‘Blood on the Kitchen Floor’ takes place at the University of Southampton’s Science and Engineering Day on Saturday 7 March, and has been devised by PhD student Reena Pau of the School of Electronics and Computer Science.

Working with professional actors from the University’s Nuffield Theatre and graduate students in science and engineering, Reena has planned a unique event which enables children to identify the murderer by solving ‘clues’ using technologies including robotics, lasers, DNA, lie detectors, and GPS.

The event begins with the children watching a humorous reconstruction of the events that led up to the murder, which takes place at a celebrity chefs’ competition. ‘The narrative is really funny,’ said Reena ‘but is intended to draw the children into the story and to give them a context for solving each of the clues.

‘As they work their way round the different technologies, analysing DNA samples or using robots to retrieve objects from forbidden places, they will be able to understand the potential and importance of engineering and science technologies.’

The inspiration for the event came from Reena’s work in schools. As part of her PhD project she has been interviewing children and finding out their views on computers and science. ‘I am really committed to ensuring that more girls enter careers in science and technology,’ she said. ‘But many children just don’t understand how technology can be used in the real world. Through merging the theatre and technology in this event we are providing a narrative which they can be part of as they use the technologies to come up with a result at the end.’

Blood on the Kitchen Floor takes place on Saturday 7 March at the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus.

‘The event serves a dual purpose,’ says Reena. ‘The graduate students taking part have all received training in how to engage children in science. So as well as providing the opportunity to get more children involved and interested, we also have a group of people specially trained to do this.

‘It’s all about getting science out of the classroom and into the real world, where it belongs!’

For further information contact Joyce Lewis; tel.023 8059 5453.

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