The Microbe Murder Mystery
As a science teacher at Success Academy Midtown West Middle School, my first priority is to ensure that my scholars develop a passion for science. I want them to confidently voice their opinions and ask lots of questions — whether we’re studying the spread of disease, or evolutionary processes. Honing scholar’s natural curiosity for the world around them is the best way for them to become great scientific thinkers.
Honing scholar’s natural curiosity for the world around them is the best way for them to become great scientific thinkers.
That’s why I was so excited when one scholar, sixth-grader Marcus Lopez-Pierre, took a particular interest in our recent unit on microbes. Marcus has been fascinated by our study of viruses and bacteria, and he’s loved learning how they change over time by looking at bacteria samples under our classroom microscopes. Recently, he did a presentation in front of the class about how diseases spread (see the photo above), and did a great job — his enthusiasm for the subject was obvious. His mother reports that Marcus now aspires to attend MIT to study microbiology!
But as Marcus’s advisory teacher, I know his other passion is reading. He’s always reading — sometimes we even have to ask him to put a book away twice at the end of independent reading time! It came as no surprise, then, when Marcus chose to write about microbes during our school’s annual Write-A-Thon. Bacteria, white blood cells, red blood cells, and protists all make an appearance in his short story, The Microbe Murder Mystery, which was selected by our teachers as one of the best stories written that day.
Here’s what Marcus had to say about his story:
Usually when I have a writing assignment and I’m not sure what to write about, I think about my passions. My passion is science, so I decided to write about that. What’s great about science is that there’s more than one answer to any question you pose, but when you finally find those answers, they bring up even more questions.
I love science and I read a lot of sci-fi, so I decided to write about microbiology, because that’s really interesting. Learning that there’s this whole world of living things that surround us all the time is kind of amazing. I liked writing this because I could make the story match the science.
I am so proud of Marcus and I can’t wait to see where his interests take him in the future! Read the engaging work of this budding author and scientist below — you won’t regret it!
The Microbe Murder Mystery
By Marcus Lopez-Pierre
White Blood Cell was a detective hired by the Body Police Department (BPD). Red Blood Cell, the leader of the right brain political party, had just been murdered. White Blood Cell had just left the murder scene when he got a chemical signal on his “cellphone.”
It was Chief of Police Stem Cell. “White Blood Cell, one of the precinct’s inmates, Virus, broke out of jail on the night of the murder,” he said anxiously. “We caught him, but he might’ve been the murderer. You should probably come down here to interrogate him.”
“Got it,” White Blood Cell said, and headed to the precinct.
“Hello detective,” Virus said with a snarl.
After telling him about the murder and explaining why he was a suspect, Virus responded with a chuckle. “Ha, you are truly a delight, detective. The reason I broke out was so that I wouldn’t get caught again. To do that, I’d have to lay low, and killing someone would only bring more attention to me. But I’ll tell you who might have done it: Bacteria. She was one of my former customers who was also Red Blood Cell’s ex-girlfriend.”
With that, White blood Cell was off to Bacteria’s house.
The door was left open, so White Blood Cell walked in. The place was a mess, but that’s what happens when you don’t even have a nucleus to hold stuff in. But in the mess, he found a card with an address on it. The address was for the leader of the left brain political party, Protist. Being in the opposing party would give Protist a motive to kill Red Blood Cell, so White Blood Cell went to talk to him.
“Hello, White Blood Cell, why’d you come to me?” asked Bacteria.
After telling him about the murder and why he was a suspect, Bacteria said “While I, um, understand why you might, um, think I did it — I didn’t.”
“Then what’s with that?” asked White Blood Cell, noticing a cut on Protist.
“Oh, just an, um, wound I got from last night,” he answered. “Well, it’s been nice talking to you, but you must go — bye!”
Stumped, White Blood Cell checked the crime scene again, and to his surprise, he found a knife with cytoplasm and DNA on it. There was no knife marks on the body of Red Blood Cell, only signs of suffocation, meaning the killer was injured with the knife.
A cell wall would defend against most of the knife’s blow, but with so much cytoplasm on it, the killer couldn’t have had a cell wall, so Bacteria couldn’t have been the killer.
And if Virus was the killer, the knife would have to go through his head to drop DNA, which would have killed him. It only made sense that Protist killed Red Blood Cell. After proving the accusation with evidence, White Blood Cell put Protist under arrest. He’ll be in jail for a long time.
Success Academy Midtown West Middle School sixth-grader Marcus Lopez-Pierre, with STEM teaching fellow Ms. Lucyk