Renters Beware Story Text

Renters Beware
A Chemystery
This would be cool to add
Quiz Link
Story line:
Slide Description: Title Slide
Text: Welcome to the Renters Beware Chemystery. A chemystery is a mystery where you get to try your
hand at solving a mystery and learn how observation, logic, and science come together to solve crimes
and science mysteries.
Slide Description: Meet Jimmy
Text: You will follow the adventures of a 10 year old named Jimmy.
Slide Description: The Apartment House
Jimmy lives in an old New York apartment building with his mom. It is on the edge of where a lot
of renovated properties are and the neighborhood is slowly coming back to life as wealthy folk are
enjoying the fad of fixing up old houses to live in or sell at a big profit.
Slide Description: Meet the tenants
Text: The apartment house has many tenants. Some who have been there for forever and some
who have just moved in. Some are young and some are old, but mostly folk without kids his age so
Jimmy spends a lot of time using his imagination to entertain himself. His mom says he has too much
imagination. How can you have too much imagination when you are a ten-year-old.
Some of Jimmy’s favorite tenants are Mrs. Fanning and old Mister Lewis. Mrs. Fanning’s dog has
been sick a lot lately. She doesn’t have enough money to take him to the vet, so she has been trying to
nurse him back to health with lots of love. She has it in abundance. Every Saturday she makes a batch of
cookies and invites Jimmy and Mr. Lewis in for a cookies and chess. She never plays chess but she seems
to enjoy bustling around her kitchen while Jimmy and Mr. Lewis do. Here lately Jimmy has been getting
pretty good. He can beat Mr. Lewis every now and then. Last Saturday Jimmy asked why they never
have any of their own grandkids in for cookies and chess. Both of them said that their families live way
off on the west coast and money is too tight to make the trip and the families are too busy to make the
trip themselves. “That’s too bad” Jimmy replies. “ They are missing out on some pretty terrific cookies.”
Mrs. Fanning smiles and touselled his hair. She likes to do that.
Not all the people who lived there were tenants. Some of them owned or worked at the
apartment building. There was Mrs. Green who was the super. That is what everyone called it anyway. It
was her job to run the maintenance of the old building. She kept to herself and was really pretty good
with tools for a lady, but some people grumbled about a few things that never seemed to be on the list
to get fixed.
There was Mr. Green. He was the owner of the building. Most of the newer tenants liked him
OK, but Mrs. Fanning and Mr Lewis said that he was constantly trying to trick them out of their rent
controlled status. Rent control is a law that is used in New York to make it easier for poorer people to
afford rent. It really isn’t used anymore, but if you rented an apartment while the law was actively used,
you could still get your rent at the reduced price. Once you moved though, you couldn’t get it anymore.
Then there was Derrick. He was the custodian. He got grumpy about cleaning up messes and he
used to work as a custodian at the high school. Everyone liked him OK except when he was grumping
about a mess.
Slide Description: CSI Kit
When Jimmy isn’t visiting with Mrs. Fanning and Mr. Lewis he loves to play with his real CSI kit.
Yes, it is really real. Jimmy’s uncle is a crime scene investigator in Baltimore. His uncle gave him his old
kit for Jimmy’s birthday when he bought a new one. He even included a Micro Chem brand chemistry
set. His uncle said that a lot of what he does relies on chemistry and Jimmy would do well to spend
some time learning about it. Jimmy took his advice and found that it was a fascinating subject.
He even had some heme stix and luminal to test for the presence of blood, but he used all that
up within the first three days and his parents said he would have to earn some money doing chores for
tenants if he wanted to buy some more. He had already earned more than half of what he needed. At
least he still had some fingerprint dust yet.
Slide Description: The Basement
Jimmy loved exploring the basement of the old apartment house. It had a laudry area where
tenants could do their own laundry but most of the time the machine was broken, so tenants just went
to the laundry up the street. That was fine with Jimmy because being the only one is the basement
made it spooky in a fun sort of way. There was a lot of pipes, old furniture, and an old furnace from the
days when the building as heated with coal or oil or something like that. He hoped to see a New York rat
and had spent many weeks trying to spot one. In New York the rats are the type to say “Here Kitty, Kitty,
Kitty.” Today he was exploring the basement with his CSI kit looking for something interesting to do
with it.
Slide Description: The Lab
As he explored, he noticed a light coming from a doorway way to the back of the basement.
That was unusual because that door was always locked. He knew that because he had pretended to try
to pick it out of sheer boredom a few times. He walked closer to the doorway and called out, “Hello. Is
anyone in there?” There wasn’t an answer so he peered in. Inside he saw some flasks and beakers on
the desk. That of course sparked his interest and he walked into the room. No one was there.
He walked over closer to the desk and observed everything carefully. He had learned that a
good investigator makes a habit of observation. As he moved to one side of the desk he saw broken
glass on the floor. It was obviously a flask – or at least was one, because the neck of it was still intact. It
must have recently been broken because there was liquid all over the floor mixed among the glass.
He glanced at the trash basket. Inside it was a shirt and a rag. Both had red streaks on it. “I bet
whoever dropped the flask got cut on the glass. The heavy CSI case he walked in with suddenly seemed
half as heavy as he realized he could use his gear to pretend to collect some evidence. He better not
mess with too much or he might get into trouble, but no one would care if he took the rag and got a
sample of the red stuff on the shirt. Probably wouldn’t hurt anything to collect the neck of the flask to
check for fingerprints later since whoever dropped it would trash that too.
He got out his latex gloves and carefully collected the discards and glass into his evidence bags.
While he gathered the rag, he noticed a chemical bottle a piece of paper in the trash with chemical
names and descriptions on it in the trash too. One of the chemicals was circled in a yellow highlighter.
He could take those too and add it to his chemistry notes and kit. It would be fun to try to figure out
what was in the mystery bottle using his chemistry knowhow – well, maybe not knowhow, but he was
learning pretty fast.
Slide Description: Evidence (vial of liquid, paper, fingerprints, bloody rag, bloody shirt)
The lab started feeling a spooky all of a sudden and Jimmy started getting a bit concerned that if
he were to be caught in there someone might get mad, so he looked at his evidence one last time and
he closed the lid and headed back to his apartment with his kit. He walked in to his apartment to the
delicious smells of dinner. He realized how hungry he was, so he ran and placed his kit in his room and
went off to dinner.
Slide Description: Is It Blood? Title slide
After dinner, Jimmy watched TV for a while before he remembered his evidence. He smiled as
he thought about testing the red stuff on the rag and shirt sample for blood. He didn’t know quite why,
but he told his parents that he had some homework to do and excused himself from the movie. He
didn’t really have any homework, but for some reason he didn’t feel like he should really tell about the
stuff he discovered. He figured that maybe it was because his mom would fuss for him walking in like
that and messing with the glass, trash, and blood and all. Moms are funny about those things, but he
knew his uncle handled stuff like that all the time for the sake of solving a crime. And, he was careful.
Crime scene investigators are always careful to not contaminate the evidence and to be careful and he
was already pretty good at his CSI skills – or at least that is what his uncle told him.
Slide Description: Tests for blood CSI Style
Jimmy’s heme stix and luminal was already gone. Both methods are used at the crime scene by
investigators. The heme stix are flexible plastic tubes. Inside there is a plastic capsule filled with liquid at
the bottom, a swab, and connected to the cap is another capsule .
Luminol is a substance that you can spray or, as In the type he had in his kit, was a swab soaked
in a liquid. When luminal comes into contact with blood it becomes luminescent – glows in the dark and
under UV light.
He remembered reading in his microchem kit about a test for blood he could do with his
chemicals. He still had plenty of all of those chemicals. That would be a whole lot better than waiting
until he could afford to by more of the other kinds.
Slide Description: Kastle-Meyer Test
Jimmy read the directions for the blood testing lab in his micro chem. Kit. The test is called a
Kastle-Meyer Test. The Kastle-Meyer’s test isn’t used a lot now a days due to the ease and easy
transport of the luminal and heme stix.
There was a time when it was used in crime labs. The problem with this test is that it is easy to
get a false positive. The test will register for even plant proteins that contain iron. But if you watch for a
color change to pink before adding the hydrogen peroxide you can tell if it was a vegetable iron. Blood
will not have a color change until you add the catalyst, hydrogen peroxide.
Jimmy took a swab sample from the rag. He added the phenolphthalein from his kit to a little bit
of distilled water from his parent’s pantry. The liquid was colorless. He then took the swab and dipped it
into the liquid. No change of color was seen yet. Then he added a drop of hydrogen peroxide. The liquid
went from colorless to pink. [ask the kids if it is blood]. Then he took a swab he gathered in the
basement lab of the red stuff on the shirt and dipped it into the phenolphthalein liquid he added to a
new well. It changed to pink immediately. [is this blood or a plant source?]
Slide Description: Pretend turns to a Real Case
During the week two terrible tragedies hit the apartment building. First, Mrs. Fanning’s dog
died. She was heart-broken. But worse was to come. Mr. Lewis also fell sick and had to be taken to the
hospital. At first, it seemed like it might be a stomach flu but he had some paralysis, confusion, and
numbness on his face. He died the same day. Jimmy and Mrs. Fanning spent the day together after the
funeral. Mrs. Fanning said that the symptoms that Mr Lewis had were very similar to the symptoms she
saw in her dog right before he died. Because the doctors didn’t know for sure what Mr. Lewis died of an
autopsy was done to determine the cause of death. The report said that he died of barium poisoning.
Jimmy remembers that barium was circled on that paper he found.
Slide Description: A Closer Look at Barium
Jimmy got back to his room. He looks over at the bottle he collected from the trash can in the
basement lab. He had planned on trying to figure out what was in it just for the fun of it. Now he needed
to know for more than just fun. Maybe that was barium in it. Could Mr. Lewis and Mrs. Fanning’s dog
have been intentionally poisoned. Jimmy read the description on the paper.
Barium — Barium is found in most soils and foods at very low levels. When ingested in
high levels, barium causes convulsions, hallucinations, nausea, cramps, and paralysis. It is toxic
in every water-soluble form. A toxic dose of barium chloride is slightly less than 1g.
Slide Description: Flame Test Title Slide
Barium is a metal. That means that a flame test could determine if the liquid were barium.
Slide Description: Barium as a Poison Research
He explored the net to learn more about barium poisoning. [Review his findings]. Jimmy goes to
his mom and things that he should call his uncle. His mom tells him that his imagination is too active and
that the call to his uncle can easily wait until the weekend when he will not be too tired.
Slide Description: Jimmy Does the Flame Test
[Explain how a flame test is done]. He proved it is barium in the bottle
Slide Description: Who Did It – Fingerprints Title Slide
He still didn’t know whose lab it was. Since there was a lock, probably only one or a few people
had the key. That could perhaps tell him who did it.
Then he remembered the neck of the flask he had. If there were fingerprints that would
definitely help him to know who did it.
Slide Description: Some Research
Text: He wanted to be careful to do everything correctly now that he might have evidence that would
really pertain to a case. He did a bit of research.
Slide Description: Narrowing the Suspects (How would you get fingerprints)
Motives? Who has keys? Everyone denies knowing anything about the lab.
Slide Description: Suspect Fingerprint Slides
[Let the kids do the fingerprint analysis]
Slide Description: Jimmy’s Mom OKs Him Contacting and Epilogue
[Summarize the evidence.]