Gather clues - Interview suspects - Analyze evidence
Solve a mysterious death

This activity is set in a research group that is developing an antivenom for spider bites. In the opening scene, Nelson Pogline, a talented graduate student, dies unexpectedly at a university reception. As a detective, you must use chemistry concepts to determine if this was murder and if so, solve the case. You can interview suspects using Quicktime movies, investigate the crime scene for clues with Quicktime Virtual Reality images, and analyze the evidence from the crime lab.


This activity requires basic knowledge of formula weight, chemical reactions and the scientific method.

Additional concepts that are discussed include molecular recognition, limiting reagents, and mass spectrometry.

Note to instructors: This Flash-based software is suitable for chemistry students at the high school and college levels. Mixed Reception can be run from our website or downloaded to your computer for off-line use. It can be used as a homework assignment for individual students or as an in-class group activity. Solving the case takes between 40 and 50 minutes.

Activity and Materials:

    Launch Mixed Reception [Requires Flash Player]

    Download for Off-line Usescreenshot

    Classroom Materials:

    • User Walkthrough [.pdf]
    • Student Activity Worksheet [.doc]
    • Periodic Table [.pdf]
    • Final Case Report [.doc]
    • Teacher Hints and Solutions - Please
      from your school email address to receive a copy
      of the hints and solutions document.

This is a free activity developed by the ChemCollective with students from the Departments of Chemistry and Drama at Carnegie Mellon University. Funding for this project was provided by the NSF and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. You may freely copy, install, and distribute this activity for educational purposes.

Please for additional information, or just to tell us what you think.

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