New “WhoDunit” Science Exhibition at QM

The Sciencentre at Queensland Museum features a new Scitech exhibition this month. The exciting murder mystery experience Whodunit? opens on 20 January and will run until 8 July. A break-in, a body, fingerprints, and an eyewitness report means there’s a major mystery to solve. Are you able to examine maggots, analyse animal poo and perform a virtual autopsy? Can you match the fingerprints and solve the ballistics puzzle? The exhibition has many interactive displays that are based on the science of crime scene investigation.

Students can find out what real Crime Scene Investigators do on the job – from fingerprint identification to paper chromatography, forensic phonetics, DNA profiling, ballistic identification, determining the time and probable cause of death, as well as many other methods of forensic science.

In February, teachers will be able to enrol in a professional development session during which they can explore the new exhibition, investigate the links to the new Australian Curriculum, and peruse the Teacher support material. (The date is the 21 February from 4:30-6:30pm. Visit the Queensland Museum South Bank website for more information and to book your place.

The Whodunit? exhibition comes with two educational booklets: – Classroom Capers – a 19-page Primary Professional Development booklet – Find out Whodunit, Murder Mystery at Menagerie Park – a 53-page booklet that includes many activities. Some examples are: 1. Making a plaster cast of a shoe print 2. Analysing handwriting 3. Chromatography 4. Fingerprinting 5. Fingerprints from non-porous surfaces 6. Map reading 7. Sequencing events 8. Soil analysis 9. Determining the pH of soils 10. Torn paper matching 11. Fibre matching 12. Tape matching 13. Using a magnifying glass 14. Setting up your microscope 15. Viewing under high power 16. Structure of hair samples 17. Micro examination of hair sample Whodunit? includes exhibits focusing on physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and plenty of technology. The activities link to the Australian Science curriculum.

Here are some links with the exhibition to the P-7 Australian Science Curriculum but there are others relevant to Years 8 and above.

  • Year 4 Chemical Science – Natural and processed materials have a range of physical properties; These properties can influence their use. (Fibre matching and analysis; flame tests; torn paper matching; tape matching.)
  • Year 5 Chemical Science – Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways. (Fingerprint analysis for non-porous surfaces – knowledge of the use of Ninhydrin which then vaporises as a gas and reacts with amino acids left on the surfaces of objects; change from liquid/suspension to solid with the use of plaster casts of footprints.)
  • Year 5 Physical Science – Light from a source forms shadows and can be absorbed, reflected and refracted. (Use of luminol in blood-splatter analysis; this chemical exhibits chemiluminescence, with a striking blue glow as it reacts with iron found in haemoglobin; the glow lasts for 30sec but can be recorded with long exposure photography.)
  • Year 6 Biological Science – The growth and survival of living things are affected by the physical conditions of their environment. (Effect of temperature and environmental conditions on the life cycle of insects which is used in turn to determine time of death if corpses are infested with insect larvae; growth of fungi and mould in different conditions.)
  • Year 6 Chemical Sciences – Changes to materials can be reversible, such as melting, freezing, evaporating; or irreversible, such as burning and rusting. (Focus on some chemical changes occurring with the testing of samples from the crime scene. e.g. expt with hydrogen peroxide, acetone and hair samples; ‘Reading the Ashes’ activity using glycerine and water)
  • Year 7 Biological Sciences – There are differences within and between groups of organisms; classification helps to organise this diversity. (Classify the different types of fingerprints as loops, arches, whorls, or a combination. Compare differences between members of the same species – i.e. classroom students. Use of microscopes to do fibre and fabric analysis and to classify them as natural or synthetic and also what sub-groups they belong in; similarly classify & analyse hair structure; how taxonomists are required to identify types of insects; pollen; mould & fungi found at crime scenes.)
  • Year 7 Chemical Sciences – Mixtures, including solutions, contain a combination of pure substances that can be separated using a range of techniques. (Paper chromatography; could also combine with some filtration activities; decantation; evaporation; crystallisation; and possibly distillation.)

We look forward to seeing you at this exciting exhibition.


About David Milne

David is an international educator with thirty-five years experience of professional and strategic development, managing change and evaluating effective practice in different education and cultural sectors. David worked at the Queensland Museum (QM) for 7 years. He led the Strategic Learning team who developed many award-winning web-based learning resources and education kits. David was formerly a member of the academic staff at the University of Queensland, an international school principal and an education consultant. He is currently a freelance writer and researcher.
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4 Responses to New “WhoDunit” Science Exhibition at QM

  1. Do you guys accept guest blog posts?

  2. David Milne says:

    Hi Cameron.
    The short answer is no; the blog is essentially for staff to write about science developments at the museum.

  3. Doris says:

    Where can I buy the two books mentioned in the article above? How much do they cost?

    • David Milne says:

      Please contact Marie (details below) and she will be able to supply the books you are interested in.

      Vandenberg, Marie – Wholesale -CSBD – Publications & Design
      South Bank – Level 5
      Phone: 3840 7645
      Email address:

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