Students turn into sleuths on UNITY Day

On Feb. 11, Norfolk Collegiate’s Oaks were turned into sleuths. They roamed the halls and used their reasoning skills to solve one of the many mysteries put forward as part of the the school’s annual UNITY Day projects. 

This year’s theme was mystery because “everyone loves a good mystery,” said Head of the Lower School Cleteus Smith. “Everyone, especially children, enjoys discovering the solutions to questions that have been mystifying or baffling them.”

UNITY (Understanding New Ideas Throughout the Year) Day was established six years ago as a way for Norfolk Collegiate students to come together through varied projects to explore a common theme while growing as a community. During the day, Collegiate’s junior and senior classes worked with the kindergartners through grade four-students, while the fifth-grade classes traveled to the Middle and Upper School campus. Grade five, seven and nine collaborated, and grades six, eight and 10 worked together in group activities. 



“Mysteries are a wonderful platform to instruct our students in such subjects as science, mathematics and reading, not to mention enhancing critical thinking skills,” said Smith. “We certainly had some very skilled and proficient super sleuths roaming our hallways that day!”

In one scenario, students were told that while crews were preparing the back fields for the new artificial turf, a humerus bone was discovered. Students were provided a list of missing persons (teachers and administrators at Norfolk Collegiate) by the police department. 

“Students were tasked with measuring the length of the humerus to the calculated length of the humerus of the missing persons (using the height),” said science teacher Claire Fornsel. “Some of the missing persons also had life insurance and the insurance company required some statistics before they would pay out $200,000 to the beneficiaries. … Teamwork was important in accomplishing these tasks. As expected, the older students helped the younger students,” said Fornsel.
The kindergartners and their senior buddies collaborated and brainstormed solutions to various mysteries throughout the day. “Some activities included using iPads to search and solve Waldo QR codes throughout the Lower School, using sense of smell to determine various smells, use sense of touch to feel objects in a bag, design a Waldo lifesize picture with paint, read the book King Karfu and solved the mystery by unlocking the tricky picture codes,” said kindergarten teacher Cathy White. “The students had a wonderful time working together for the day!”

Meanwhile, the fifth, seventh and ninth grade students were tasked with solving who kidnapped Headmaster Scott Kennedy. “The students had to work together working on a deductive reasoning activities to gain their clues to solve the mystery of who kidnapped Mr. Kennedy,” said Anne Claywell, director of Academic Advising and Counseling.

This year’s UNITY theme of mysteries allowed the students to constantly ask 'why' to their fellow students, Upper School friends and teachers. “And that they did,” said Smith. “All of their ‘whys’ were answered in their hands-on and engaging activities. Additionally, “who doesn't enjoy a ‘gotcha’ at the end of a good mystery. This UNITY theme allowed many opportunities for unexpected ‘gotchas’ that surprised students and teachers alike.”