In a church on Easter Sunday of 1478 an attempt was made to wipe out the Medici dynasty in one single attack. The attack was only half successful. We know who the attackers were but we do not know who organized the clearly well-planned attack. You will attempt to find out by decoding a secret letter, listening to witness testimony and exploring why some people might have been angry enough at the Medici to commit murder. Your suspects include a powerful rival family, a former employee of the Medici and the pope himself!
Time: 45 minutes
Materials: video player, print-outs below
Set-up: Print out each of the exhibits in the files below. It helps to have 5 or 6 copies of each. Begin by showing the intro video and possibly Exhibit A then disperse students to visit each of the exhibits. These 3 files below have all the exhibits and handouts for students.
Want some background on the case? Watch this intro video.
Exhibit A: Historian on Sixtus
Exhibit H: Testimony of Duke of Urbino
Recently I've received a number of questions from teachers regarding how this lab actually works. Here is my response to one of them which hopefully helps clear up any confusion.
I set up the 6 printed exhibits around the room before students come in. In one corner of the room I have caution tape surrounding a chalk outline of a body. That's where I put the autopsy report and pictures of the knife and skull. At the other 5 stations I have one copy of the item either framed or printed out poster-sized to add to the "museum" effect. I then have 5-6 basic black and white copies of each that students can use for easy access (I keep them in those plastic page holders that go in binders so they don't get messed up getting used/moved throughout the day.)
When the students come in I have them do some sort of warm up to get them working. I set up a powerpoint with the intro video (or just have it queued up in Youtube), a brief case set up and their instructions for handling the exhibits (I attached a simplified version for you). Without warning while they are working I kill the lights and start the intro video. The opening screech of the eagle is enough, combined with the lights going out, to get their attention. It really helps, obviously, if you've got a good sound system in the room. I don't say anything up to this point in class. When the video ends I go through the on-screen instructions and then pass out the Investigation Journals for each student. This all takes maybe 5 minutes.
I explain that we'll be doing the first exhibit together on the screen so they can see what I'm looking for. We watch the video for exhibit A (the historian on sixtus clip from the website) and answer the questions together. I then tell them they have 20 minutes (I'd do 25 if I had more than a 50 minute period) to examine the 6 exhibits in the room. They are free to do so however they'd like. Some go solo, some partner up, they go in varying orders, etc. You may want to make it a bit more organized given your circumstances. You can easily set 5-6 kids at each station to start and then tell them to move to the next one every 4 minutes. The only issue with that method is that some of the exhibits do take longer than others (particularly decoding the letter). It really comes down to how focused you expect your kids to be.
After the 20 minutes I give a 30 second warning and turn the lights back off to indicate the exhibits are closed. They return to their seats and watch the video for the final exhibit (the Duke's testimony). After answering the questions for that in the journal they complete the Indictment on the back flap of the journal. We then take about 10 minutes to discuss their theories as a class and answer the debrief questions from the powerpoint. That gets everything done in my 50 minute period. The first two years I did the lab we had 65 minute periods which worked much better since it allowed more time for the debrief.
One last thing, the newpaper article exhibit is SUPPOSED to be cut off. I tear off the edges of the paper after I print it to make it look like a torn out article since the questions in the journal only refer to the small ad for artists and not the articles - they are just extra window dressing. I hope that helps but by all means if you have any more questions ask away!