A student smiling as he works at his laptop

Each month-long case is the equivalent of a course. Students—who are called “eInvestigators”—will participate in only one case per term, so be sure to choose a case that matches your student’s interests.

To learn about how cases are structured, visit the Program Details, Policies, and Philosophies page.

2020 cases

The Ominous Outbreak

When a single patient is admitted to the hospital with odd symptoms and an unidentifiable disease, doctors are concerned that his illness could turn into an outbreak.

eInvestigators in this case take on the role of epidemiologists in the Center for Disease Control, specialists who are brought in to connect the dots and piece together the clues as to why and how this illness is spreading. Be prepared to analyze medical data, read maps, and find symptom patterns.

As an epidemiologist, doctors and global health workers are relying on you to share your findings and stop the outbreak. The fate of global health rests in your hands!

The Shipwreck Cipher

An encrypted journal found behind the stacks in a historical archive in London may resolve years of suspense and uncertainty surrounding the pirate, James “Goldknife” Felling, and his lost treasure.

Join an archaeological research team to analyze historical artifacts, interpret laboratory tests, and conduct underwater and land excavations while ensuring that the cultural heritage of the region is preserved.

As keys emerge from shipwrecks and swords, eInvestigators work together to crack coded messages in hopes of locating the celebrated Goldknife treasure...before someone else does!

The Combustible Costume Prosecution

Members of a small town notice that there is a pattern of unexplained property fires. The common denominator? All of the incidents involved costumes that had been purchased from a local novelty shop.

A grand jury indicts the costume shop owner, and he is ultimately arrested on alleged violations of the Flammable Fabrics Act. Did the owner knowingly and willfully sell costumes that failed to conform to US flammability standards or regulations?

During the trial, eInvestigators will join the jury to determine guilt or innocence under the statute. Students will participate in voir dire (a preliminary examination of a witness), experience the neutrality of the juror role, and analyze witness testimony for evidence, bias, and motive.

Students will receive weekly case updates and deliberate with their fellow jurors to reach a verdict in this legal mystery.

The Etruscan Excavation

Even a small piece of pottery can reveal clues about the people who used it. eInvestigators in this case explore the Etruscans of ancient Italy, the most advanced civilization before the Roman Empire—and one of the most mysterious societies in the history of mankind.

As the case unfolds, eInvestigators discover details about the Etruscans' education, entertainment, and military. This lost civilization has no surviving history of its own, so participants collaborate each week to give the Etruscans a voice by curating a museum exhibit based on evidence from relics and writings during the age of Augustus Caesar.

Students then share their findings and arguments using Web 2.0 tools, multimedia, infographics, and virtual avatars.

The Abdominal Pain Conundrum

This case kicks off with a patient who presents with abdominal pain—a classic conundrum in the medical field.

eInvestigators review the patient’s symptoms, work through possible causes, study her personal and family history, and discuss options for testing and evaluation. They also review medical artifacts in preparing their differential diagnoses and learn how to read X-rays, blood test results, and data from the patient’s physical exam.

eInvestigators working this case receive weekly case updates and test results and narrow down potential diagnoses in this medical mystery.

The Perplexing Pestilence

eInvestigators race to stop the spread of an unknown pestilence as new data arrive from the field each week.

As agroecologists, students must work to diagnose the problem, develop and debate potential solutions, and present options for protecting the world's food biodiversity. Is the contamination isolated to a particular crop, or is it more wide-spread? Are animals at risk as well? How will this disease impact businesses and the economy?

As the stakes build, will the team be able to find a solution before the decay spreads out of control?

The Field Trip Fiasco

An educational field trip to the national park with a group of students suddenly takes a wrong turn when a protected bird’s nest is destroyed and their teacher is charged with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

eInvestigators are appointed as federal prosecutors to collect, review, and decipher the evidence in light of the federal statute and recent regulatory guidance. Pressure from special interest groups builds and social media attention grows, adding urgency as the students evaluate all the information and decide how to use prosecutorial discretion in the best interest of justice.

The Mountaineer’s Malady

An adventurous hiker collapses on a mountain trip and is brought, tired and weak, to the emergency room by his fellow climbers.

eInvestigators must step into the role of hospital doctors to stabilize the patient, take vitals, and perform a physical exam. As they get ready to discharge the patient, new signs and symptoms emerge, prolonging his hospital stay and deepening the mystery of his medical condition.

Students will interview the hiker’s friends and family, order tests, analyze lab results, and collaborate to rule out various diagnoses. Students will need to explore all possible contributing factors to diagnose and treat the hiker, ranging from environmental circumstances, to this patient’s unique history, to complications of the nervous system.

Get application instructions

eInvestigators is a month-long online program for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders that takes place each year in the spring, summer, and fall. Using leading-edge instructional technology, participants collaborate with a small group of classmates and an expert Lead Investigator to collect clues about a real-life mystery, analyze evidence, and propose theories.