There has been a theft: someone has stolen an original and signed drawing by the artist M.C. Escher from a Manchester museum. The police have several key suspects. But… “whodunnit?!”

This is the question that teams of Year 9 pupils tried to solve when we hosted a Crime Crackers event at a local school at the beginning of March, in the time before COVID-19 took over.

To begin, teams of four had to use one of their Taxi Tokens and decide which location to travel to. Once they had arrived, they worked together to solve a related mathematical puzzle. For instance, at one location, they needed to use a formula to estimate the height of the suspect from his/her footprint.

Once they had reached an answer, they had to take their puzzle to the Police Station. If the Detective Superintendent confirmed they were correct, the team was awarded a Clue. For example, one clue informed the teams about a train ticket which was found inside a library book.

The more clues the teams gathered, the more they could piece together the puzzle and successfully crack the crime!

At the end of the session, teams had to decide who was guilty and who was not, before presenting their detailed case to the Crown Prosecution Service (yours truly!).

The morning went really well; pupils really enjoyed the challenges and the format, and gave some great feedback.

After lunch, students learnt about the plethora of careers which benefit from good STEM qualifications, including the Police, Forensics Science and GCHQ; and also local employers such as BAE systems, Sellafield and the Environment Agency. They also learned about post-16 routes including Core Maths and Further Mathematics. According to their feedback, pupils found this session really useful and informative.

When things return to some sort of normality, I would be happy to run Crime Crackers in your school. The event is aimed at higher ability Year 9 students who want to improve their mathematical and teamwork skills. If you are interesting in hosting it at your school next year, or want to find out more, please contact me (Adrian Hall).