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Crime Squad Enrichment Day

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Year 7 girls went off-timetable today for a crime-themed curriculum enrichment experience. They first assembled at the Arts Centre, where they were split up into groups of eight or nine and given their team name – including CSI, the Detectives, MI5 Intelligence and even the FBI! After a brief introduction, the teams set off to one of the four activities on offer: Gorilla Kidnap, Cops and Robbers, Murder Mystery, and Bomb Disposal!

Gorilla Kidnap challenged the girls by putting them into the shoes of the Thameside Police, responding to the kidnapping of a gorilla from a country park. They were given lots of different pieces of evidence and clues, including a mug with a logo, lots of fingerprints, and descriptions from eye-witnesses of a van leaving the scene. They were also given a huge map of the area and a magnifying glass, so that they could read the tiny lettering and find different locations of interest. They had to decide who they wanted to interrogate further to advance the case, and received transcriptions of what happened when uniform went to ask a few questions.  It was important to make the right decisions here so as not to miss a vital clue!

In order to send in a squad to make an arrest, they had to put together a minimum of six pieces of evidence pointing towards that suspect. This was no mean feat, and required the girls to work together, discuss and think through their reasoning.

Cops and Robbers truly pitted the groups against one another, with one team assigned the role of the police, and the two others acting as rival criminal gangs. This made it one of the most exciting tasks! The Robbers were given secret hideouts and instructions to find and ‘steal’ as much of the hidden loot as they could find, while the Cops were told to stop them and confiscate any items they found. With the very real threat of jail time in the Arts Centre – and a “You’re nicked!” sticker – it was a challenge trying to find the loot without attracting the attention of the Cops. There was also a strict timekeeping element: the teams had ten minutes of planning time, followed by twenty minutes to find and collect the loot or arrest the Robbers. The robbers then had a final two minutes to bring everything back to the Arts Centre. If they came back early, they were at risk of being caught by the Cops and arrested! With stopwatches handed out to each team, and zero points awarded for lateness, time management was a key part of the challenge.

The Murder Mystery allowed the girls to work in smaller groups of three or four. They were given various pieces of evidence and testimonies from the potential suspects, and were asked to solve the murder of Mrs Jones. The girls discussed the different pieces of evidence and started to make conclusions on who they thought had committed the crime.

They were then told that they would need to present their argument to the rest of the group, justify their conclusion, and try to convince everyone that they were correct.

Each small group was given a large sheet of paper and marker pens in order to create a poster as a visual aid to their argument. This could be a timeline, flow chart, mind map – anything but an essay or story! The idea was to create the shape of their argument on paper, so that they would not need to refer to the clue cards for pieces of evidence. With so many different theories and conclusions being drawn, each group had to work really hard to argue their case.

The Bomb Disposal task took place out on the netball courts. Although the weather was chilly, the girls really enjoyed working on this task and couldn’t wait to get stuck in! In order to defuse the bomb, they had a crossword to complete and a code to break – as well as needing to get hold of the bomb itself, which was isolated in the centre of a large, cordoned square.

The girls needed to use teamwork and a length of rope to first reach three clues, laid out in jars around the central bomb. Then came the difficult task of lifting out and defusing the bomb itself! As well as being a lot of fun for the girls, the task required them to use teamwork and follow instructions carefully and in order. More than one group let their enthusiasm get the better of them and accidentally set their bomb off, causing a huge – but thankfully imaginary – explosion!

Throughout the day, the tasks stretched the girls’ ability to work together and perform as a team. At the end of the day, the Last Battle required them to think back over their performance in each activity and decide what roles each member of the team played.

“Teamwork’s not just about being friendly,” said Emily, the Wiser Words representative who ran this session. “It’s about using the people with the right skills, and also knowing what skills a team needs to be successful.”

The girls discussed what role they thought they played, and also what roles they thought fit each other – not always with a perfect match between the two! Once they had categorised each other, they then had to create a poster of their team being successful in their best task, using symbols to represent the different roles and personalities of the people on the team.

The Crime Day was run by Wiser Words, who provide masterclasses and enrichment days to inspire young people to be intellectually curious, to think for themselves and to be able to express their ideas with eloquence. “I’d love to come back here, because there’s so much potential,” said Robin, another member of the Wiser Words team. “I love their enthusiasm.”

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Using teamwork to reach for clues during Bomb Disposal

Using teamwork to reach for clues during Bomb Disposal

The girls created visual aids to back up their argument during the Murder Mystery task

The girls created visual aids to back up their argument during the Murder Mystery task

Poring over the map and collating evidence for the Gorilla Kidnap

Poring over the map and collating evidence for the Gorilla Kidnap