1. The Crime Scenario

Background: The annual school science fair is a highly anticipated event where students showcase their innovative projects. This year, a groundbreaking experiment involving sustainable energy was the standout entry, expected to clinch the top prize. However, the night before judging, the project is mysteriously sabotaged. The main apparatus is dismantled, and crucial components are scattered across the floor. See an image of the project below prior to sabotage.

Evidence at the Scene: Next to the ruined display, a hastily scribbled note reads, “Better luck next time!” The note, written in black ink, appears rushed. Fingerprints cloud the edges of the project display table, suggesting a struggle or hurried attempt to disable the project. Nearby, distinctive fibers are found— likely from a heavy-duty jacket or sports team uniform, starkly out of place in the pristine environment of the science fair. Additionally, a series of muddy shoe prints leading to and from the display table have been identified. These prints could provide crucial insights into the movements and identity of the perpetrator.

Objective: You are tasked with uncovering the identity of the saboteur. You will need to perform paper chromatography to test the ink used in the note, use forensic techniques to analyze the fingerprints on the display table, and examine the unusual fibers under microscopes. The goal is to piece together the clues and determine which of the other competitors might have had the motive and opportunity to disrupt the project.