Kitchen Crime Scene

Having just started watching the series, I was so excited when Shawna Strenfel, a FACS teacher from New York shared this Kitchen Crime Scene problem based lab activity! Shawna’s Kitchen Crime Scene is based on the popular television show Crime Scene Kitchen! So, if you love the show, you’ll be anxious to give this a try with your students!


  • Shawna created and implemented this lab activity for culinary students last spring as a way to get students’ creative juices flowing and get them engaged. Additionally, as the PD Co-Chair for NYSFACSE, Shawna is always looking to create new lessons and activities that she can share!
  • Set up a kitchen crime scene with the provided clues, mess and yellow caution tape. This really sets the scene and hooks them from the start.
  • Then show the Crime Scene Kitchen trailer to get them thinking and them understand the concept.
  • Be sure to check out Shawna’s notes with the slide presentation.



  • Students go back to the kitchens to explore and to solve the clues. Once they think they know what they are making, they should find a recipe.
  • Because students may not be “experienced bakers” like in the show, they may search for recipes using class cookbooks or internet resources.
  • Once students have found a recipe for what they believe the mystery dessert is, they write up and submit a grocery order.
  • Students spend the next two days/periods in the lab preparing their dessert.
  • On the final day, students must present their dessert along with a recipe and evidence from the crime scene to back up their selection.
  • Judges could be brought in to authenticate the experience before revealing the actual mystery dessert! Grades are based on general lab rubric and points will also be given for creative use of materials, presentation, teamwork! Winners can be awarded prizes or receive a “golden spoon award” along with photos taken to display around the school!
  • Notes: Shawna suggests doing this at the end of a semester so students have a lot of skills and practice under their belt. She also picked this dessert because she felt like the ingredients were simple enough and they’d be in the pantry. In addition, many skills are required in the preparation of this dessert and there was a lot of room for interpretation such as cupcakes and whoopie pies!


Photo by kat wilcox from Pexels

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