How to Get Away with Murder: An Inquiry Driven Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Bone Decomposition in the High School Classroom


  • Parker Stuart University of Central Missouri
  • Kelsey Stuart State Fair Community College
  • Melinda McPherson


Decomposition, Active Learning, High School, Interdisciplinary, Scientific Phenomena


In this inquiry-based lab, students are provided with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of physiology, forensic science, and chemistry to aid in the decomposition of a simulated body. The students are provided a chicken bone (“body”) and are tasked with trying to get away with murder by trying to dispose of the body.  Throughout the course of the lab, students will research, design, and conduct a series of experiments which culminate with a gallery walk where students present their experiments and the class decides which method is the best way to “get away with murder”.  All the materials for the lab are readily available for teachers in high school and college classrooms. This real-world problem engages the students to think about the roles of chemicals, insects, and the environment in the decomposition of biological matter.  The method of disposal, experimental design, and testing procedures makes this lab extraordinarily relevant to the lives of students, which is supported by students’ reactions to the lab. The lab also emphasizes an area of forensic science which is in need of effective laboratory activities especially at the high school level.





Activity or Laboratory Experiment: High School Educators