Who killed Rudolph the Reindeer?

Posted on Monday, December 17 2012

With just weeks to go before Christmas, tragedy strikes.

Rudolph the Reindeer has been killed – and Santa, Mrs Claus and his fellow reindeer are among the prime suspects.

Our only hope for a happy Christmas? Schoolchildren from across Bournemouth – who visited BU to try and solve the crime on Monday.

The Who Killed Rudolph? was organised by BU and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) to introduce pupils to forensic science.

Year 9 pupils from The Bourne Academy, Oakmead College of Technology, The Grange School, Carter Community School and St Aldhelm’s Academy first watched a short play, which introduced all the main characters and prime suspects.

The play – acted out by students and Aimhigher ambassadors – showed tensions between Rudolph and characters including Mrs Claus – who was jealous of Santa and Rudolph’s ‘snowmance’ – The Grinch and the Head Elf Toymaker, who had been overlooked for a promotion, with Rudolph getting the job instead.

At the end of the play, Rudolph staggers in and collapses – but nobody knows what has happened to him. Or do they?

“It’s a forensic murder mystery,” said Naomi Capell, Science Outreach Officer, at Aimhigher with BU, who helped organise the event.

“The participating schoolchildren then had to find out how Rudolph died and whether he was killed.

“They took part in five workshops and all of them were aimed at discovering the truth behind those aspects of the investigation.”

The workshops were led by students and took place in BU labs.

They included interrogating the main suspects, fingerprint and hair analysis and learning how to extract DNA using strawberries.

Pupils also analysed Rudolph’s stomach contents to see if he has been poisoned.

Naomi said: “We hope they will see the possibilities of studying science, particularly science at university.

“Forensics is not something that students tend to study at school, so we just wanted to show them more about what science at university is like and what kind of facilities we have.

She added: “The students seemed to enjoy the activities.

“All of the workshops were as practical as possible and we got quite good feedback from the interrogation workshop – they quite loved questioning all of our main characters.”

The Who Killed Rudolph? event was repeated by staff and students at the Royal Veterinary College, in London, for schoolchildren the next day.

Pupils had to write down who they thought killed Rudolph and how, and the answers were revealed in another short play at the end of the event. Pupils who got it right won prizes.

Dawn Griffiths, upper school coordinator at Oakmead College of Technology, had brought her pupils along to the event at BU.

She said: “It has been brilliant. It’s a great insight into studying forensics at university.

“It has stretched the pupils, which has been really good, and they have been fully engaged with it all.

“Speaking to the students throughout the day, a growing number have said that they are now interested in studying forensics.”