Medical Detective

How to Complete the Enrichment Activities

The Medical Detective rotation lasts approximately four weeks. During this time, you will have four days to work on enrichment activities (approximately one day per week). Enrichment is designed to be flexible. The activities should focus on topics that relate to this rotation, but you should choose or design projects that you find interesting. You may decide to complete one in-depth activity that takes four days to complete, or you may want to complete four activities that each take one day to complete.

Early in the rotation you should review the list of possible projects and decide where you would like to start. You can get an idea of all the activities you want to work on in the rotation, but remember enrichment is flexible. As your work in the main storyline progresses, you may come across a topic that interests you. Feel free to pursue new ideas and projects, just be sure to work with your mentor and manage your time. As the rotation progresses, meet with your mentor periodically to review your progress on the enrichment activities you selected.

Remember enrichment is your opportunity to investigate topics that interest you. It’s also a chance to be creative! You have a chance to break away from paper writing for a while. Many of the suggestions outlined below suggest writing papers, but you could also write songs, shoot videos, build websites, create posters and flyers – anything you can think of! So take some time to get out of your classroom, learn about things going on in the world around you and have fun!

Plan your Enrichment Activities

  1. Review the list of enrichment activities. Make a list of the activities that you might like to work on independently during the Medical Detective rotation.

  2. Come up with your own ideas. If you have other ideas for activities you would like to pursue that relate to the topic of medical investigation, add them to the list.

  3. Prioritize and narrow your choices. You have a total of three days to complete your enrichment activities. Think about which topics or activities are most appealing to you. Then consider how you would like to investigate those topics.

  4. Create a plan for completing at least one enrichment activity. Your plan should include what you want to do and how you will do it. Use the Enrichment Activity Plan Template to help you think through the details of each enrichment activity. Refer to the example provided for ideas on how your plan might work. Then finalize your plan for each enrichment activity.

Get Approval for Enrichment Activities

  1. Meet with your mentor and review your plans for each of the enrichment activities you want to pursue during this rotation. Together, brainstorm additional ways you might approach the activities. Discuss the best way to fit the activities into the rotation schedule.

  2. Note any feedback your mentor provides during your discussion and revise your Enrichment Activity Plan.

Conduct your Enrichment Activity

  1. Implement your Enrichment Activity Plan based on the schedule you and your mentor agreed to. Work on your project deliverables as you go.

  2. Check in with your mentor according to the schedule you both agreed on when your mentor approved your enrichment plan. During these meetings review progress on your deliverables and schedule.

  3. Submit final deliverables as directed by your mentor.

Enrichment Resources

Enrichment Activity Plan – Template

Enrichment Activity Plan – Sample

Suggested Enrichment Activities

Description of Enrichment Activity Approximate Duration
Living Will

People write living wills to legally document the kind of medical care they want to receive if they are ever incapacitated (i.e. in a coma, on life support, etc.) and unable to make their own medical decisions. Research living wills. As part of your research answer the following questions: Who should have a living will and why? How would they go about writing one? What kinds of decisions would one need to make about their future medical care when completing a living will? What controversies can arise from living wills and how can they be avoided?

Find a way to share your research. You might:

  • Design and create an informational piece like a flyer, brochure or website explaining your research.

  • Write a letter to the editor detailing living wills, who you believe should have one and why.


2 Days
Case Study: Terri Schiavo

There are many serious issues for families to consider when faced with the prospect of removing life support for a loved one. An example from recent years is Terry Schiavo, who after years in a vegetative state had her feeding tube legally removed by her husband. Research the Terri Schiavo case. Using it as an example, write an essay on the ethical issues of removing life support and what you would do if presented with the options that Schiavo’s family had to face.


3 Days
Donating your Organs

When you sign up for a driver’s license in most states, you are given the option to designate yourself an organ donor. Investigate the organ donation process and the rights of organ donors after they have died.

As part of your investigation be sure to answer the following questions: Once a potential donor has passed away, how does that person’s wishes to donate his/her organs stack up against his/her family’s wishes if they differ from the wishes of the intended donor? Do the wishes of the deceased carry any legal weight? If the family is opposed to donation, what happens? How does the process really work (vs. how it’s “supposed to” work)? How does the donor registry work? If someone designated herself a donor when she applied for a driver’s license in Michigan moves to California and gets into a fatal accident, will medical officials in California have access to her records and know that she wanted to donate?

As part of your investigation you may want to conduct Internet research, look for case studies and interview medical professionals who deal with organ donation.

Find a creative way to share what you have learned. You might:

  • Write an article for the local paper.

  • Film a news story for the local news.

  • Write a play or story.

Be a TV Critic

As you work your way through the Medical Detective rotation, you may begin to notice that what you see on television isn’t the same as a real death investigation, including the details of the crime scene, autopsy, ballistics, etc. With that in mind, choose an episode of a medical investigation series (e.g., CSI, Law & Order) and judge how well the show sticks to what real death investigations are like. Specifically consider: What aspects of the show are represented realistically? What is not realistic? In what ways could the case be represented differently to be more realistic and yet still be dramatic? Summarize your analysis in a 2-3 page critique of the episode.


1 Day
You Can’t Always Believe What You Read Online

Just as TV shows may change the details of an otherwise realistic death investigation case for dramatic purposes, their corresponding web sites sometimes provide death investigation “tools” that fail to get the details right. Review the evidence, tools, and procedures in the handbook on the CSI web site. Analyze the information there and compare it to the real death investigation processes you have worked with in this rotation. Ask yourself: What are they misrepresenting? How should the information be correctly explained? What consequences might the misinformation have on a potential investigation? Summarize your findings in a 2-3 page critique.


1 Day
Privacy vs. Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act is a law that makes government records available to the public. This means that autopsy and crime scene photos are available for all to see, which raises questions about the rights of the deceased - - especially those who were victims of violent crimes.

Following the 2001 death of NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt, a Florida newspaper tried to access and publish his autopsy photos. Earnhardt’s widow, Theresa went to court to try and seal the records, so those photos could not be published. You may want research this case and use it as an example.

As part of your research think about:

What are the potential implications of publishing such material? What are the ethical considerations? Who, if anyone, should have the right to access such records?

Write a 2-3 page essay weighing the public’s right to information against the deceased’s right to privacy.


2 Days
Psychology of suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 – 24 year olds. Many of these suicides result from depression. Knowing some of the signs and symptoms associated with suicide can help parents and teachers profile at-risk teens. Do some research to uncover the link between clinical depression and the risk of suicide. Consider the signs and symptoms for both depression and suicide. Then write a profile of a fictional teen who is particularly at risk. In 2-3 pages write a character description of this fictional person’s personality and habits that put him/her at risk for clinical depression and suicide. What are his/her behavior patterns? What should friends and family look for? What stigmas about depression do people have and how might that prevent someone from seeking help?

Then write an addition 1-2 pages advising that fictional character about the options available to help them and the challenges they face. What resources are available to a teen who needs help? What resources are available to friends of at risk teens who want to help?


3 Days
Up in Arms

Where should the balance lie between one individual’s right to self protection and another’s right to live in a safe, non-violent community? This is a long-standing argument in the international community, with differing opinions around the world. Should individuals be allowed to own and use guns? Where do you stand? Research what the issues are, collect enough facts to take a side, and defend your stance in a 3-5 page argument.


3 Days
U.S. Legal System: Criminal vs. Civil Law

In the United States, it’s possible for someone to be innocent and guilty…almost at the same time. In one kind of court, you can be acquitted, yet in another, you can be convicted of the exact same crime. How it that possible? Research the similarities and differences between the criminal and civil legal systems. Using a case study of your choice (for example, the O.J. Simpson case), compare and contrast the burden of proof and the standard of proof under each system. Explain how someone could be found innocent in a criminal trial for a given crime, yet found guilty of the same crime in a civil trial.

Then write an opinion piece stating your perspective on the whether or not this dual system effectively ensures that justice is served.


4 Days
The Role of Intent

Intent plays an important role in the criminal trials. Research intent as a legal principle. You might conduct internet research or arrange to interview an attorney from your local district attorney’s office and/or a local defense attorney. Specifically consider: How does one establish an accused person’s intent to kill? What is the psychology behind intent? From a legal perspective, explain the different standards for homicide (1st degree, 2nd degree, manslaughter, etc.) and the implications of those standards in a criminal proceeding (e.g., corresponding punishment, etc.).

Write a 2-3 page report explaining the differences between murder and homicide with regards to a person’s intent to kill.


2 Days
Design your own

Come up with your own idea(s) for an enrichment activity related to some aspect of a death investigation. Write a brief description of your idea and submit it to your mentor for consideration.