Vol. 4 No. 2 (2020)
Feature Articles

The Strange Case of Professor Promezio: A Cold Case in the Chemistry Museum

Andrea Basso
Università degli Studi di Genova
Marco Grotti

Published 2020-07-02


  • High School Introductory Chemistry,
  • Inquiry-based Learning,
  • Problem Solving,
  • Forensic Chemistry,
  • History of Chemistry

How to Cite

Basso, A., Alloisio, M., Carnasciali, M. M., Grotti, M., & Vicini, S. (2020). The Strange Case of Professor Promezio: A Cold Case in the Chemistry Museum. Substantia, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.13128/Substantia-813


Promezio is a famous Italian chemistry professor who is searching for missing element n. 61. In 1924 his laboratory is partially destroyed by a fire and he disappears. Almost one hundred years later high school students are recruited to investigate this strange case. “The strange case of Professor Promezio” represents a unicum in the panorama of laboratory activities for high school students: it is a cold case in which students are asked to investigate a fact that took place almost a century ago. Through the chemical analysis of different findings, the connection with historical events of that period, the study of the suspects' interrogation reports, the reproduction of the experiments conducted by Professor Promezio, the students will identify the possible culprit. A complex scientific problem is solved exploring different areas of chemistry and, in addition, interconnections with history, geography, ethics and other school subjects are deepened.