Skeletal Mystery

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Leicester parking lot excavation

Players: single player in a group setting

Ages: 11 to 18

Grades: 11th to Higher Education

Standards Met: NGSS, CCSS, C3, CTE

In 2012, historians and archeologists began tearing up a parking lot in the city of Leicester, north of London. They were searching for the remains of Richard III, who had died in battle in 1485.

After 3 weeks of digging, they discovered a skeleton. But was it King Richard?

This program is an exploration of the skeletal system: its structure, function, and its special role in forensic science for establishing the identity of victims long gone. Students will begin with an exploration of skeletal systems in other animals, with an emphasis on the engineering tradeoffs for each animal design. Next, students will examine joints in the human skeleton, using their own bodies as templates, to identify types of joints that match specific functions. Finally, students will play the scientific jury to weigh the evidence that researchers presented to establish the identity of Richard III, drawing on historical records, the incomplete evidence on Richard’s physical appearance, accounts of injuries he sustained in battle, as well as modern chemistry and genetics that revealed what he ate, where he lived, and how he died.

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