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Division: B – Middle School

NC Essential Standards Alignment: 6.P.2, 8.P.1, Science as Inquiry

Event Rules: See National Rules

National Event Page: Here

2024 NC Regional and State tournaments will only will be focusing on:

  • 3c, i and ii. Qualitative Analysis of Solids and Metals.
  • 3d, i and ii. Polymer Analysis of Hair and Fibers.
  • 3f, ii, iii, iv, and v. DNA, shoeprints, tire treads, soils, and spatters.


Given a scenario, a collection of evidence and possible suspects, students will perform a series of tests.  Test results along with other evidence will be used to solve a crime and answer questions.  


Each participant may bring one 8.5×11″ sheet of paper, which may be in a sheet protector sealed by tape or laminated, that may contain information on both sides in any form and from any source without any annotations or labels affixed.  Each team may bring any or all of the items listed on the Division B Chemistry Events Lab Equipment List included in the Official Rules Manual.  Each participant may have a stand alone non programmable non graphing calculator.  Participants must wear goggles, an apron or lab coat and have skin covered from the neck down to the wrist and toes.  Gloves are optional.  Hair must be tied back. The Event Leader will provide Iodine reagent, HCl, Chromatography materials plus containers, waste containers, wash bottle with distilled water, as well as other equipment.  


In addition to the recommended lab equipment listed in the rules manual, students may also use a thermometer and/or conductivity tester.  In addition, any types of small containers for holding chemicals and performing reactions may be used.


High score wins. 

Common Mistakes:

– Be sure to follow all safety requirements! Safety issues will NOT be arbitrated.

– Event leaders will not answer questions on testing procedures (for example- how to perform a burn test on fibers) nor will they provide a copy of the rules or a list of the possible unknowns. Teams should already know procedure, and should include a list of the possible unknowns in their allowed notes if they cannot remember. Event leaders WILL answer safety questions, and stop students from performing a test in an unsafe manner.


Will students need to perform flame tests for fibers in 2024? No!

Event Resources:

Powder Analysis blank chart
Sample Forensics Flowchart

General sites on Forensics and Crime Busters
Real World—Articles on aspects of crime scene data collection
Links to forensic activities for students
Recommended Lab Equipment List
American Chemistry Council – Plastics 101
Spinning the Elements: Wallace Carothers and the Nylon Legacy
Crime Busters Resources from MY SO
STEM Session Video with tips from previous competitors!

Polymers and Fibers:
Microscopic Images of Fibers—search for the types of fibers and select the kind of microscopic technique for the image you want.
Animal Hair Images

Previous Year’s Topics:
Crimebusters 2018 Coaches Clinic Presentation (2019 Rules)
2017 Coaches Clinic Presentation

Intro to Chromatography
Tutorial on Interpreting Mass Spectra
Mass Spectrometry 
Basic info Mass spectroscopy