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The Proof is in the Powder

Source Institutions

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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The Proof is in the Powder

In this activity, learners will design a way to identify a powder found at a crime scene by comparing it with known powders, with the goal of solving a crime. Learners will describe the various physical properties of chemicals and will discover how to use deductive reasoning to solve problems. This activity includes optional extensions where learners can compare chemical and physical changes, determine whether household substances are acids or bases, and repeat this activity using additional challenges.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
1 to 2 hours

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Acids and Bases
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science
  • Literature


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Links STEM to other topics of interest such as arts and humanities
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Exhibits Development Group; Geoffrey M. Curley + Associates


  • All Rights Reserved, ©2014


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