Real-life da Vinci mystery inspires global school competition

Forensic Outreach

Forensic Outreach, an educational organisation that specialises in public engagement in forensic, crime and security science, is launching a remarkable new project on Kickstarter in 2015. Alongside an incredible virtual faculty and by combining three powerful learning tools, CASE Academy is an interactive online school that provides resources — lectures, games and simulations — for students, educators and anyone who is fascinated by these subjects.

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On 29th February, over a thousand schools across the globe will race to unravel a real-life mystery that has long captivated the art world. Education startup Forensic Outreach and New York-based edu-retailer Ward’s Science have prepared a worldwide STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, Art and Mathematics) competition inspired by the 2011 hunt for the lost Leonardo da Vinci painting The Battle of Anghiari. The competition involves three subject-specific challenges: ‘cryptanalysis’, ‘geometry and probability’ and ‘materials science’.

The competition is backed by an FBI cryptanalyst and a judging panel of art historians and scientists from leading institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Tate (London), The Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles) and The Courtauld Institute of Art (London), as well as several distinguished US universities.

“Science applied to the fine arts offers us a rare opportunity to uncover some of the secrets of the past,” said Dr Bronwyn Ormsby, competition judge and principal conservation scientist at Tate. “[We will also be able] to increase our appreciation of the beauty of works of art as well as the awe-inspiring talent of artists.”

For three weeks, participating classrooms must access and download challenge bundles that contain lesson plans and other resources to be administered by an appointed teacher, or team leader. Each team’s answers to challenge questions are submitted through the competition’s website.

Shivani Lamba, managing director at Forensic Outreach, said: “Narrative-driven and problem-based learning approaches have been at the heart of our company’s educational and public engagement projects. This competition is an exceptional opportunity to capture the imaginations of students around the world -- and inspire them to investigate the avenues available to them in Art, Science or both.”

Prizes for winning teams include curriculum kits, multimedia bundles, poster sets and complete forensic science libraries, provided by Ward’s Science.

The competition is free to enter and runs for three weeks. Educators are now able to pre-register their teams - the competition officially opens on the 29th of February at 9:00am GMT. After all three challenges, the finalists will be announced on 25th March, with the winners to be announced at the end of April 2016.

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