SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Middle School eighth grade students in Sue Breznak’s and Karen Martin’s classes had an unusual end of the year project.  They were using science to solve the mystery of “Who Broke the Copier.”

“It is a really fun activity to do with my friends,” Katrina Ciliberti said. “I would like to figure this out.”

Students used evidence at the scene including “a shoe print by the door, a finger print on the copier and the door, a coffee cup at the crime scene with a bite mark and containing a brown liquid and a handwritten note left by the copier,” according to Breznak.

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“I think we will be able to figure it out,” Joe Byrnes and Thayne Arnold said.

The students made a scale drawing of the crime scene and were using chemistry concepts to evaluate the content of the cup and the marker used to create the note. 

Breznak said the students were going to get additional information the next day to shed additional light on the case. 

The science teachers said they were inspired by an article in the National Science Teachers Association publication.  They took additional concepts from a Crime Scene Investigation book. 

With only a few half days left in the school year the students were still working in these classrooms. 

“I’d rather be doing this than watching a movie,” Nicole Fauvie said. 

“It is a great way to end the year,” Alannah Dobrzynski said.

“A fun way to end the year,” Ellie Rogoff said.

Elias Kerim said, “It’s pretty cool.”

“It is pretty fun and interesting,” Connor Ailara said.

“We hope to polish it, improve on it and try it again next year,” Martin said.

As for solving the copier caper; "a few students got close," Martin said.