After talking about the basics of writing Lab Procedures, and learning how not to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, students were introduced to the process of “Chemical I.D.” Scientists quite often come across mysterious substances and they can use a variety of tools and procedures to identify them. One famous example was the case of the Boston Marathon Bombing.
In the case of the bombing, the FBI’s team of forensic chemists were able to identify that the bombs were homemade from aluminum pressure cookers, carried in nylon backpacks, using remote control detonators fashioned from toy cars. That is an amazing amount of information they were able to glean from the blast site. Using this and other information, the FBI was able to track down the Tsarnaev brothers. Ultimately, the information about the homemade bombs was used to convict the surviving brother. That’s real-world chemistry in action!
Imagine the year is 2025. You have graduated college and you now work for the FBI Forensic Chemistry Dept. On October 5th, you are called in to investigate an explosion at a local school. On a separate piece of paper, write a paragraph explaining how you could use the process of “Chemical I.D.” at the crime scene. Be sure to mention any of the “four methods” you wish to use. This homework is due tomorrow.