Limerick schoolyard sleuths get Taoiseach’s seal of approval

The cunning students at Lisnagry National School solved the case with the help of Garda Tony Carmody.

FOURTH class pupils at Lisnagry National School arrived earlier this month to find their classroom had been turned upside down by a burglar.

What they didn’t know at first was that they were about to become part of a forensic investigations team to track down the culprit behind the classroom crime.

Colin Foley, fourth class teacher at Lisnagry, was one of the people behind the groundbreaking project that unfolded during Science Week 2023.

He came up with the idea with secondary school science teacher Ellen Condon and even Gardaí in Castleconnell got in on the investigation.

The project got such a reaction that news of it reached the ears of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who posted a social media message giving the school the thumbs up.

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“When the children arrived, they absolutely believed that their classroom had been the scene of a crime,” Colin told the Limerick Post.

The children formed an investigation team and Garda Tadhg Hartnett made a video of various items of evidence and let the children examine them.

The young crime scene investigators narrowed the search to six suspects and quizzed them, along with taking fingerprints and ‘saliva’ samples to see if any of the six staff members could be directly linked to the crime by forensic evidence.

School secretary Fiona Smith emerged as the guilty party and the pupils then called in the services of Garda Tony Carmody to help decide what punishment should be handed down.

In the course of unravelling the classroom mystery, the pupils got a chance to showcase their scientific curiosity and skills.

The 25 10-year-olds engaged forensic science experiments, insightful chromatography investigations, and intriguing fingerprint analyses in the course of their very own CSI encounter.

“The children really loved it and it gave them a fantastic opportunity to experience science in action for Science Week,” said Colin.

Thanking the Gardaí for their huge support, the Lisnagry teacher said: “The project not only highlights the brilliance of our students, but also underscores the importance of fostering scientific curiosity in our community – especially with the rise of STEM in education”.