If you teach Forensics, you know how much fun a mock crime scene can be. This Dill Pickle Autopsy activity is a student-favorite and can be used in so many different ways. Today, on the blog, I will show you how to prep for this fun and engaging activity. I am also providing a FREE DOWNLOAD for this resource, so be sure to scroll to the bottom to grab that worksheet! Now, get ready to engage your Forensics students with The Pickle Autopsy!
I use this activity to prepare my students for their end-of-the-year PIG AUTOPSY INVESTIGATION. Through this activity, students are able to practice using a scalpel, basic autopsy procedures, and anatomical vocabulary that they are typically unfamiliar with. Both the pickle autopsy and the pig autopsy projects are activities that are part of my 9-week DEATH INVESTIGATION UNIT.
A fellow forensics teacher shared the idea of this activity with me. She had the brilliant idea to create a storyline in which a gang of pickles “The Claussens” confront another gang, “The Vlasics” about some missing items in the fridge. The confrontation ends in the demise of several pickles from The Claussens gang and one from The Vlasic gang.
Here are the supplies that I used for this activity. For a complete list, scroll to the bottom of this post where you can download a copy of this resource.
I purchased a few gallon-sized jars of pickles from Walmart to use for this activity. Each jar held about 16 pickles, so I had plenty for my 90 students to work in partners. I started by draining the pickles and drying each with a paper towel.
Now for the eyes… I glued google eyes to thumbtacks and pushed them into the pickle. Next, I added toothpicks for arms and legs.
Next, I made a small incision with a scalpel and inserted a red craft bead into the thoracic cavity to represent the heart.
In my lab sheet (scroll to the bottom of the post to grab it), I have the students determine the cause and manner of death for their pickle. For the cause of death in this scenario, I implant a few BBs (from a pellet gun) into the pickles. Once the BBs are placed inside of the pickle, I add a few drops of Halloween blood into the wounds.
I added bandanas as facemasks for my pickles. This allowed me to make it clear that the pickles were part of two separate groups. I just printed bandana patterns onto a sheet of paper and cut them into tiny triangles. Then, I used push pins to adhere them to the pickles.
SETTING UP THE CRIME SCENE
Now for my favorite part…setting up the crime scene. To protect my floor, I laid down a white poster board and positioned the pickles in various places on the poster board. Next, I added a few blood pools around the pickles and scattered some bullets (aka BBs) around the crime scene. To add a bit more “crime scene,” I added some miniature evidence placards that I made from yellow construction paper. The final touch was crime scene tape and I was ready for my students.
When the kids entered the classroom, I had the CSI theme-song, Who Are You, playing. They immediately huddled around the scene, discussing their “take” on their observations. I allowed them to observe the crime scene for 2 minutes before sending them back to their seats for instructions. Once students were given directions, a member of each lab group was allowed to carry a “victim” back to their lab station. Each lab group had to follow the procedures outlined in the Pickle Autopsy Lab Sheet and ultimately make a determination on the cause and manner of death.
PERFORMING THE AUTOPSY
My students loved this activity so much. The self-conducted autopsy gave me the freedom to walk around and discuss possible COD with my students. After clean-up, each group shared their take on what they believed caused the demise of the pickles. We shared laughs and the kids said that it was one of their favorite activities of the year. I highly recommend it for your Forensics class.
If you want to engage your Forensics students with The Pickle Autopsy, I’d love to save you time and energy! I have created a FREE download of the PICKLE AUTOPSY STUDENT LAB SHEET. Click the image below and I will send it directly to your email inbox.