What it is: A few days ago I wrote about the awesome interactive Smithsonian Museum, today I found another great activity on the Smithsonian website called The Secret in the Cellar. The Secret in the Cellar is an interactive web comic that is based on an actual forensic case of a 17th century body that was recently discovered. Through graphics, photos, and activities, students begin to unravel a mystery of historical and scientific importance. Students can analyze artifacts, and examine the skeleton for clues to determine a cause of death. Because of the subject matter of this web comic, this activity is best suited for middle school or high school students.
How to integrate The Secret in the Cellar into the classroom: The Secret in the Cellar activities and web comic are a fantastic way to excite students about the history of Colonial life in America and the science behind archeology. This site takes students on a journey of discovery and critical thinking. Throughout the web comic, students will find links to additional articles about the actual forensic case and the display at the Smithsonian Museum. This activity would be best in a computer lab setting where each student can explore at their own pace. Along the way, encourage students to keep a record of their inferences about how the boy died. Before students complete the web-comic, discuss what conclusions students have come to based on the evidence.
Tips: Students can dig deeper into this site learning about bones, the lives of colonists, forensic anthropology, and learn more about the related exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Leave a comment and tell us how you are using The Secret in the Cellar in your classroom.