The big goal of this mystery, which was created with support from Newcastle University, is to get young people more aware of and interested in politics by using the 2015 UK general election as an example. It works well with KS3 (11-14 year olds) but can be used with other age groups too.
In the story, an 18 year old called Grace Feng is thinking about who she should vote for on May 7th. Students are invited to help her make this decision. The 25 slips of illustrated information given in the app include many of Grace’s family and friends’ opinions, which may or may not help her. Students can work through this app in pairs as it is specifically designed to develop collaboration skills and promote discussion. The story has been written by Professor David Leat and illustrated by The Boy Fitz Hammond, who brings the characters to life.
Why explore the election with a mystery?
Engaging young people in politics can be difficult for many reasons. Many may not think it is relevant to their own lives, or don’t connect with the people they see in the media – “How can they help us?” That is why exploring the topic using an interactive and engaging story looking at how the different parties may have an impact on Grace’s actual life, can be a good way to start. Students are introduced to quirky characters such as Grace’s brother Derek, who loves tweeting and playing games but keeps an eye on politicians and often finds them funny with disbelief.
The task can be used as part of PSHE, citizenship or even the English curriculum, as it develops communication, debating and reasoning skills.
Why has this mystery been created?
There is considerable evidence that the percentage of the population who vote in elections is falling. Pundits blame various things; apathy, distrust of politicians, the death of big ideas in politics and the decline of local government (to which people may feel more connected). However, democracies only have legitimacy if people vote, or at the very least, deliberately spoil their ballot papers.
Generally, more older people vote, and if young people don’t, they're much more likely to be ignored by politicians and lose out. The question that pupils should answer is NOT ‘Who would YOU vote for?’ but ‘Who do you think Grace should vote for, and why?’ It is hoped that many will be interested enough to do some research of their own.
The information provided is intended to be reasonably balanced. Some may not be entirely accurate as much of it is what friends and family are telling Grace. You should stress that students should focus on slips that say something about the character/values of Grace, and this should help them decide.
The intended learning outcomes are to:
1. Understand some basic points about the policies and track records of major political parties in England
2. Listen carefully to other people in their group/other groups
3. Make a reasoned decision about how Grace will vote
4. Critique other groups’ decisions and defend their own decision as appropriate
5. Explore more detail of the election policies
How does a mystery work?
By default, the process is over 3 stages. Students must read all the slips then move on to create and name groups to sort the information. After that, they go to a Sequencing Stage, where they can use various tools (sticky tapes, notes) to create a chain/sequence of information. This can help them come to an answer, which they type at the end, but also helps teachers see how they came to their conclusion.
After this, students can print or share a PDF report of the session, as well as having the option of a Reflection Stage where they can play back the process.
How can I try other mysteries?
At the bottom of the app details tab, tap ‘Developer Apps’ to view our current range. There are now mysteries in Key Stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 for many subjects. There are individual apps of Shakespeare plays, geography case studies, WW1, Maths and computing.
Fixed compatibility issue.
Up to six family members will be able to use this app with Family Sharing enabled.