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About Us

Paul Barlow BSc (Hons) PGCE MIfL

Paul has a degree in Biological Science from the University of Wolverhampton. He graduated from his PGCE at Birmingham City University in 2007 and is currently a freelance lecturer. Paul came up with the idea of Murder Trail over coffee with Sandra Goodman in a smoking shelter on hot midsummer's afternoon in 2007. The idea came together in just under a couple of hours - the first version was two sides of A4 with evidence trails scrawled all over it. The current version is over 1000 pages long and still growing!

"We [Paul and Sandra] were just finishing a coffee, if you could class it as that, and Sandra was having her last puff on her cigarette when a member of staff uttered those dreaded words, 'I don't suppose you could...?'" recalls Paul. "It was a lovely hot summer's day, so a little longer in the fresh air was welcome.

A member of the E2E, or Education 2 Employment team asked if we could do something for their crime week. Oddly enough, Sandra and I had just been discussing extracting DNA using household objects. It's the sort of thing that comes up in conversation when you're a science teacher.

Naturally this was our first suggestion and then someone, I can't remember who, mentioned cops and robbers; and then someone else mentioned a Murder Mystery and then I made the mistake of mentioning CSI. 'Great, that sounds good,' everyone chirped.

So after another hour of talking we had progressed from a simple one hour DNA extraction practical to a complete CSI episode. With nothing concrete, no-one had a clue how to turn a CSI episode into a lesson plan and no one really expected it to happen. It was an interesting fantasy being bounced around between staff on a much needed break.

We eventually settled on the DNA extraction with some discussion about crime and maybe some investigation around finding the DNA.

'What if you could make the students feel as if they were part of a CSI: Miami episode? What if you could get the students to carry out their own investigations and come up with a solution of their own?'

I was spurred into progress by a History teacher who gave us a Neolithic Murder Mystery to solve way back when I was in year 8. But I was also very mindful of those awful murder mystery games where 'Mr Mystery' and 'Detective Dunnit' killed the atmosphere by their very name alone.

I wanted something that felt real. Something where I wasn't going to be guided through to a solution.

Murder Trail was born.

I wanted to create something that was akin to the Safari at Disney. It would have to have limits, but I wanted them hidden from view. I wanted a way to engage the students without patronising them or turning them off; I wanted a CSI and forensics basis to it, but it had to be easy enough for anyone without a science background to play. And unlike a film, or the CSI episode it was going to be based on, we couldn't control when evidence was uncovered, not without making the whole thing seem artificial.

The more I thought about it, the more impossible it seemed to reconcile these ideas. That was when the hard work began.

I pieced together a simple plot and took all my thoughts to Sandra. We spent the next three weeks working on nothing but Murder Trail. Getting the plot and evidence trails laid out were the hardest parts. It was already on version 12 when the time came to run it. Version 12 was extremely hot off the press; in fact we were still printing it as we got the teams started on the morning of July 28th 2007.

It was fairly basic compared to the version of Murder Trail we are running today and back then, we had no idea how sucessful it would be. There were no fancy graphics, no music, no introductory PowerPoints. Even the CSI kits were empty cases with equipment put in at the last minute.

However, version 12 did see something that has remained ever since: the dropping dagger, that catches so many people unawares during the scroll text, is a curiously popular feature of Murder Trail.

I'm extremely happy with how Murder Trail is shaping up. It certainly fulfils its original brief...and then some. There are so many extra things that we didn't expect hidden away in there - the way teams go through norming storming and reforming in just a couple of hours; the impact it has on the players in so many personal ways; the similarity in group dynamics regardless of education, the list goes on...

It started out as a fun couple of days for some E2E kids and now we are starting to use Murder Trail as group diagnostic tool, analysing why groups don't work and how and where they can be improved. It's incredible."

All of the websites, PowerPoints, licensing, and documentation, as well as some of the music scores are credited to Paul.

 

Sandra Goodman BSc (Hons) PGCE MIfL

Sandra is an experienced Physics lecturer at North Warwicksire and Hinckley College and helped create the first workable version (which was two weeks of hard work!). Sandra contributed many ideas to the project and continues to help out wherever she can.

 

Sian Scott BA (Hons) PGCE MIfL

Sian first became involved in Murder Trail in 2008 as the events co-ordinator for a run at Leicester College, where she works as the Advanced Practitioner for Science, Maths & Humanities. Sian teaches English and Humanities, but is also an Enrichment Specialist, so it was no surprise that she developed a keen interest in Murder Trail. She continues in her role as events co-ordinator but is now part of the MT development team and provides ad hoc editorial support.

Murder Trail Statistics

For those who are very curious or very bored, here are some Murder Trail statistics to get your mind around. There are:

  • Over 500 pages of planning
  • Over 1,000 pages of resources
  • 1 specially designed Ordnance Survey style map
  • 10 pieces of music specially written for Murder Trail
  • 40 PowerPoint presentations
  • Over 60 pieces of unique art work
  • Over 116 million million ways to plan Murder Trail
  • 15 specially commissioned photographs
  • 2 minutes worth of planning to set up Murder Trail
  • 6.5 million million ways to link the evidence (i.e solutions) - but only one is right!

The day is split into sections for planning purposes:

- The introduction core activity is called Devil's Kitchen - this is where we stir things up and throw everyone in at the deep end. There are two other versions of the introduction: Satan's Pantry and Devil's Pulpit. Devil's Kitchen is actually the name of a Cwm on the Glyders in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. It can be seen from Tryfan and Llyn Ogwen. The name seemed approriate for the start of the day.

- The investigation part of the day is called The Hornet's Nest, named after the way players swarm around the actors asking questions.

- There is a DNA extraction activity used in longer versions of Murder Trail called Watson Elementary. Watson and Crick elucidated the structure of DNA in 1953, while Sherlock Holmes was supposed to have said "elementary my dear Watson," (although this doesn't actually appear in any of the 56 short stories or the 4 novels...). Our name is a simple play on these words.

- All of the presentation core activities are named after Gods of various ancient religions e.g.:

  • Thoth More: Thoth was the Egyptian God of reason. Thoth More is the activity where the teams tell us about their solution. This involves one last bit of reasoning from the teams.
  • Erra Muse: Erra was the Babylonian God of mayhem and pestilence - our name Erra Muse suggests thinking over the confusion and mayhem that occurs during the day - and making sense of it.
  • Misharu's Palace: Misharu was a Sumerian God of justice. There are no known temples to Misharu.

 

Privacy Policy

 

We like our privacy and respect yours. In short, we'll never keep information unduly or pass on any of your details unless required by law or if you have requested us to do so on your behalf.

 

In the long of it:

This website does not collect any data about its visitors except those collected by the hosting server itself, including how many page hits a certain page gets, the browser used, and the operating system of the computer. There is no personal information collected at all.

 

Any information you send to us, such as your name and email address when you contact us, will not be disclosed to any third party unless required to do so by law. All data will be held in accordance with the data protection act.

 

We do not keep names of players when we issue certificates, nor do we store any other personal information about people we meet on the day. Pictures are taken with permission of all those involved.

The only information we collect about any particular Murder Trail run is the location, the number of people involved, the resource-fork used and how long it ran. This helps us keep track of what we are doing and enables us to improve Murder Trail more easily.

 

Feedback forms are anonymous, unless you specifically request otherwise. Data from the forms is aggregated per run to help us identify areas to improve Murder Trail. These forms are completely optional.

 

Permission has been granted for all pictures to be included on this site.

 

All persons depicted in images were over the age of 18 when the pictures were taken.

 

Copyright

A full copyright notice can be found in the skills pdf downloadable from this site.

Murder Trail

Murder Trail devised by Paul Barlow. Concept and idea copyright © 2007 - 2011 Paul Barlow. All rights reserved.

“Murder Tra[dagger image]l”, The Murder Trail Dagger Logo, The Murder Trail Logo, Copyright © 2007 to 2011 Paul Barlow. All rights reserved.

The Murder Trail logo and Alternative Reality Logos are trademarks of Paul Barlow.

Alternative Reality Logo copyright © 2010, 2011 Paul Barlow. All rights reserved.

All artwork and written materials copyright © 2007 to 2011 Paul Barlow.

PowerPoint presentations copyright © 2007 to 2011 Paul Barlow (except the music).

Introduction and Preview music copyright © 1999 Jack Wall. Tallarico Studios Inc. All rights reserved. Used under licence. Arrangement and additional production by Paul Barlow.

Credits music copyright © 2008 Chris O'Brien and Gerald O'Brien. Arrangement and additional production by Paul Barlow. Published by SSI Music Publishing. Used under license.

Other music copyright © 2007 - 2011 Paul Barlow. Used under license.

3D face reconstruction image copyright Emmanuel Prados, Perception Team, INRIA Rhone-Alpes 655, ave de l'Europe 38330 Montbonnot France.

Smashed skull “Mrs Getty” Copyright © 2006 Cotswold District Council. Provided by Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester, GLOS. GL7 2BX.

PowerPoint is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.

Murder Trail is a trademark of Paul Barlow.

Any unauthorised broadcasting, public performance, copying, re-recording, hiring, photocopying, digitising, scanning or any other form of replication will constitute an infringement of copyright and is strictly prohibited.

The right of Paul Barlow to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

For printings and version history see documentation.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Original Concept and idea by Paul Barlow

Plot written and devised by Paul Barlow and Sandra Goodman

Documentation written by Paul Barlow, with help from Sandra Goodman

PowerPoint presentations by Paul Barlow

Music by JackWall, Paul Barlow, Chris O'Brien and Gerald O'Brien

CSI Equipment supplied by CSI Equipment Ltd., Redline Security

CSI cases provided by Maplin Electronics, Ltd.

CSI Kit preparation by Sue Rowley

 

With thanks to:

The WAVE team for asking us to get involved with the E2E program. We’d never have sat down and actually written Murder Trail otherwise

Glynis Worrow who helped get the project off the ground

Karen Rowley for frequently playing various characters

Prados for allowing me to heavily modify their facial reconstruction image for inclusion in the preview presentation

The IfL for recognising Murder Trail as one of the best CPD projects 2009 - 2010

All the staff and students who have made running Murder Trail so much fun!

 

Terms of Service and Disclaimer

Paul Barlow and Sandra Goodman reserve the right to withdraw this service (Murder Trail) at any time but will honour any outstanding bookings. This service is provided "as is".

All events, characters, locations and names depicted in this game are fictitious. Any connection with real events or people is purely coincidental.

THE ORGANISERS, PAUL BARLOW AND SANDRA GOODMAN, THEIR EMPLOYERS AND ANY ASSOCIATED MEMBERS OF STAFF ACTING ON THEIR BEHALF SHALL NOT BE HELD PERSONALLY OR OTHERWISE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY PHYSICAL INJURIES OR MENTAL DISTRESS CAUSED BY PLAYING OR BEING OTHERWISE INVOLVED WITH THE EVENT KNOWN AS “Murder trail”.

ALL MATERIALS HAVE BEEN CREATED BY PAUL BARLOW AND SANDRA GOODMAN EXCEPT WHERE EXPLICITLY STATED.

Note: Every care has been taken in designing these activities to be safe. All participants are given health and safety training for equipment used where required.

 

 
 

Copyright © 2010 Paul Barlow

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