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Third-grade Michigan mystery detectives are on the case

Comstock Park — “Does your school border a lake in Michigan?” asked third-grader Aniah Segovia into a microphone to a group of students on the screen.

The students from the other class, somewhere in the state, immediately held up a sign that read “We are thinking.” After a few minutes, they held up another one: “No,” and third-graders Landon Miller and Lydia Rottman ran a black line around a Michigan map to indicate that lakeshore communities had been eliminated.

The Pine Island Elementary third-grade class was participating in a Michigan Mystery Connect, offered by the REMC Association of Michigan. In Michigan Mystery, two classes work to determine where each other are located by asking yes-and-no questions.

Deb Becker, who teaches the Leader in Me classes at both Pine Island and Stoney Creek elementaries, said it gave students an opportunity to practice leadership skills such as communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

Third-graders Lydia Rottman, left, and Landon Miller were mappers, marking off areas that were eliminated by questions posed to the other class

“It is not a competition of who can figure out the other’s location first, but rather an opportunity for the students to learn how to work together to solve a problem,” Becker said. And, of course, they also learn a little geography and how to read a map.

Narrowing the Possibilities

In Michigan Mystery Connect, two classrooms participate in a live video conference for about 45 minutes on a designated date.

To assure they did not give any clues, Pine Island students checked their clothing before logging on to make sure there were no school logos.

Becker assigned the students to specific tasks: hosts asked and answered questions, while another group recorded the questions. Yet another group formed questions based on answers given, while two other groups served as mappers, who crossed out areas, and researchers, who looked up information such as counties and school districts within a certain area. 

“The idea (is) that we want to keep shrinking down the state so that we can zero in on where the other class is located,” Becker explained as students began.

The first question the Comstock Park third-graders asked was if the other class was located in the Upper Peninsula. 

“This was to determine if we could cut the state in half by taking out the Upper Peninsula,” Lydia said.

From there, the students, with the help of Becker and staff, began asking questions such as, “Is your class located east of the city of Lansing?” and, “Is your class located in the thumb (region)?” Each question helped the class get closer to determining the other’s location.

Getting Closer

After determining the district was not near the city of Jackson, the students made one last guess: Was it North Adams-Jerome Public Schools in Hillsdale County? Close; it was Gier Elementary in Hillsdale Community Schools, right next door to North Adams-Jerome.

The other class came close as well, narrowing to the Grand Rapids area before time ran out.

“It was fun,” Lydia said. “It was good to see another class and try to figure out the mystery.”

Read more from Comstock Park: 
Students plan activities to make community a better place
Taking the plunge

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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