Diablo Highway Forensic Science Lab Activity

The Activity

Case History: Diablo Highway is the second in the Case History forensic science series from Learn Engines. (The acclaimed Murder at Old Fields is the first). Case History features comprehensive forensic science lab activities based on actual crimes that occurred in the not-recent past.

Diablo Highway contains 11 lessons and nine lab activities for middle and high school students based on the double-murder of Hazel Frome and her daughter Nancy that occurred in March 1938 on a desert road in Southwest Texas. Diablo Highway is problem-based learning (PBL) that compels the application of science through real-world problem solving.

The Case

The Unsolved Frome Murders

The Frome murders prompted sensational nationwide news coverage as much because of the gruesome details of the murders as for the identity of the victims: two women of style and wealth, mother and daughter, traveling in their luxury car un-escorted through some of the most inhospitable terrain in America - the West Texas desert. This crime has never been solved.

In conducting the Diablo Highway lab activity based on the Frome Murders, students learn some of the tools and techniques of modern forensic science, such as Firearms Identification and Blood Typing, and apply this knowledge to solve this long-cold case.

The combination of the virtual lab activities and the real-world lab activities, makes Diablo Highway, and the other cases in the Case History series, “blended” learning activities. They provide the best of both the virtual and the real worlds for teachers and students in a richly rewarding and flexible educational experience. Based on a teacher's preference and schedule, combinations of these real and virtual labs can be taught to fit the time available.

Schedule a Demo

Request an appointment with a representative who will walk you through Diablo Highway and answer your questions. This no-obligation demo normally lasts 15-30 minutes and is conducted using online tools such as Skype or Google Hangouts to chat and share our screen with you.

Schedule a Demo

The Diablo Highway Online Activity

Diablo Highway contains 11 lessons and nine lab activities for middle and high school students based on the infamous unsolved Frome murders in March 1938 on a desert road in Southwest Texas. The activity is problem-based learning (PBL) that compels the application of science and is aligned with grade-appropriate NGSS standards. This is an online activity that students access via a web browser on any device connected to the internet including desktops, laptops, tablets, Chromebooks or smartphones. Learn more about the requirements for DiabloHighway.com below.

Schedule a demo online to learn more.

Purchase Diablo Highway Virtual Online


The Diablo Highway Online Activity is also available to purchase from:

Carolina Biological Ward’s Natural Science

Left click and drag to rotate, right click and drag to pan, mouse wheel to zoom

The Diablo Highway Virtual Lab features 3D models of the control samples and the crime scene evidence.

What Software Do I Need In Order to Use Diablo Highway Online?

Diablo Highway uses the latest web technologies in order to deliver a rich, interactive experience right in your web browser. No other software downloads or plugins like Flash are needed. Older web browsers often lack the ability to use these new technologies or they may perform poorly or not work at all. This means that DiabloHighway.com requires you to use a modern and up-to-date browser.

If you are not currently using a supported browser you can either upgrade your current browser or install a new one. Upgrading or installing a browser is free, easy, and safe.

The following list represent browsers that will work with DiabloHighway.com:

While Diablo Highway may work in older versions of these browsers, the most recent versions will usually offer improved performance and security.

Diablo Highway Online and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Our goal at Learn Engines is to make our products accessible to the broadest range of users possible. To that end, we continually work to update Diablo Highway and our other products to better comply with evolving accessibility standards on the web.

If you are having problems using Diablo Highway or have noticed specific accessibility problems, please contact us using our contact form.

See the table below to learn how Diablo Highway complies the WCAG 2.1 standards.

Diablo Highway WCAG 2.1 Conformance Matrix

Table 1: Success Criteria, Level A

Spec Compliance Notes
1.1.1 Non-text Content (Level A) Partially Supports
1.2.1 Audio-only and Video-only (Prerecorded) (Level A) Not Applicable No audio/video content
1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded) (Level A) Not Applicable No video content
1.2.3 Audio Description or Media Alternative (Prerecorded) (Level A) Not Applicable No audio content
1.3.1 Info and Relationships (Level A) Supports
1.3.2 Meaningful Sequence (Level A) Supports
1.3.3 Sensory Characteristics (Level A) Partially Supports There are quiz questions where images are referred to by location above question
1.4.1 Use of Color (Level A) Supports
1.4.2 Audio Control (Level A) Not Applicable No audio content
2.1.1 Keyboard (Level A) Partially Supports Crime scene mapping lab cannot be completed with a keyboard, no keyboard controls for crime scene or 3d labs
2.1.2 No Keyboard Trap (Level A) Supports
2.1.4 Character Key Shortcuts (Level A 2.1 only) Not Applicable No keyboard shortcuts
2.2.1 Timing Adjustable (Level A) Not Applicable No timed activities
2.2.2 Pause, Stop, Hide (Level A) Not Applicable No content of this nature
2.3.1 Three Flashes or Below Threshold (Level A) Supports
2.4.1 Bypass Blocks (Level A) Supports
2.4.2 Page Titled (Level A) Supports
2.4.3 Focus Order (Level A) Partially Supports
2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context) (Level A) Partially Supports
2.5.1 Pointer Gestures (Level A 2.1 only) Supports
2.5.2 Pointer Cancellation (Level A 2.1 only) Partially Supports
2.5.3 Label in Name (Level A 2.1 only) Does Not Support
2.5.4 Motion Actuation (Level A 2.1 only) Supports Crime scene can be controlled by mouse, touch, or accelerometer-based controls
3.1.1 Language of Page (Level A) Supports
3.2.1 On Focus (Level A) Supports
3.2.2 On Input (Level A) Supports
3.3.1 Error Identification (Level A) Supports
3.3.2 Labels or Instructions (Level A) Supports
4.1.1 Parsing (Level A) Does Not Support
4.1.2 Name, Role, Value (Level A) Partially Supports

Table 2: Success Criteria, Level AA

Spec Compliance Notes
1.2.4 Captions (Live) (Level AA) Not Applicable No audio/video content
1.2.5 Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AA) Not Applicable No audio content
1.3.4 Orientation (Level AA 2.1 only) Supports Website is fully responsive
1.3.5 Identify Input Purpose (Level AA 2.1 only) Not Applicable Do not have inputs that collect the type of info covered
1.4.3 Contrast (Minimum) (Level AA) Supports
1.4.4 Resize text (Level AA) Supports
1.4.5 Images of Text (Level AA) Supports
1.4.10 Reflow (Level AA 2.1 only) Partially Supports Crime scene interface cut off, evidence labels can become cut off in lab (full label visible on hover)
1.4.11 Non-text Contrast (Level AA 2.1 only) Partially Supports
1.4.12 Text Spacing (Level AA 2.1 only) Supports
1.4.13 Content on Hover or Focus (Level AA 2.1 only) Supports
2.4.5 Multiple Ways (Level AA) Does Not Support Page sidebar is the only way to access all pages
2.4.6 Headings and Labels (Level AA) Supports
2.4.7 Focus Visible (Level AA) Partially Supports
3.1.2 Language of Parts (Level AA) Not Applicable
3.2.3 Consistent Navigation (Level AA) Supports
3.2.4 Consistent Identification (Level AA) Supports
3.3.3 Error Suggestion (Level AA) Partially Supports This is done where applicable, but is not done in cases where providing such information would give away the answer to a question
3.3.4 Error Prevention (Legal, Financial, Data) (Level AA) Partially Supports When applied to quiz/lab submission there are checks and confirmations before submitting but the submission itself is not reversible
4.1.3 Status Messages (Level AA 2.1 only) Partially Supports

Table 3: Success Criteria, Level AAA

Spec Compliance Notes
1.2.6 Sign Language (Prerecorded) (Level AAA) Not Applicable No audio/video content
1.2.7 Extended Audio Description (Prerecorded) (Level AAA) Not Applicable No video content
1.2.8 Media Alternative (Prerecorded) (Level AAA) Not Applicable No audio/video content
1.2.9 Audio-only (Live) (Level AAA) Not Applicable No audio content
1.3.6 Identify Purpose (Level AAA 2.1 only) Does Not Support No ARIA labels or landmarks
1.4.6 Contrast Enhanced (Level AAA) Partially Supports There are some styles that do have a contrast ratio of 7:1
1.4.7 Low or No Background Audio (Level AAA) Not Applicable No audio content
1.4.8 Visual Presentation (Level AAA) Partially Supports Meet all criteria exept foreground/background colors not selectable by user and paragraph spacing
1.4.9 Images of Text (No Exception) Control (Level AAA) Does Not Support There are labels that are part of a number of graphics in the lessons and quizzes
2.1.3 Keyboard (No Exception) (Level AAA) Does Not Support Not possible for crime scene mapping lab
2.2.3 No Timing (Level AAA) Supports
2.2.4 Interruptions (Level AAA) Partially Supports Interupts cannot be postponed
2.2.5 Re-authenticating (Level AAA) Partially Supports No data loss occurs, but a user does not continue on the same page
2.2.6 Timeouts (Level AAA 2.1 only) Not Applicable No data loss occurs when a session times out
2.3.2 Three Flashes (Level AAA) Supports
2.3.3 Animation from Interactions (Level AAA 2.1 only) Does Not Support
2.4.8 Location (Level AAA) Not Applicable
2.4.9 Link Purpose (Link Only) (Level AAA) Partially Supports
2.4.10 Section Headings (Level AAA) Supports
2.5.5 Target Size (Level AAA 2.1 only) Partially Supports
2.5.6 Concurrent Input Mechanisms (Level AAA 2.1 only) Supports
3.1.3 Unusual Words (Level AAA) Supports
3.1.4 Abbreviations (Level AAA) Supports
3.1.5 Reading Level (Level AAA) Does Not Support
3.1.6 Pronunciation (Level AAA) Not Applicable
3.2.5 Change on Request (Level AAA) Supports
3.3.5 Help (Level AAA) Supports
3.3.6 Error Prevention (All) (Level AAA) Supports

The Diablo Highway Real World Kit

Materials from the Firearms Identification lab
Materials from the Blood Typing lab

The Diablo Highway real-world kit contains 10 lab activities for middle and high school students based on the double-murder of Hazel Frome and her daughter Nancy in March 1938 on a desert road in Southwest Texas. The activity is problem-based learning that compels the application of science through real-world problem solving and is aligned with grade-appropriate NGSS standards.

Kit includes everything to support a class of 30 students working in groups except microscopes. For grades 7-12, community colleges and trade schools.

  • Teacher’s Guide
  • One copymaster Student’s Guide
  • One copymaster “Story of the Crime” booklet
  • Access to the Online 3D Evidence Viewer

The Student’s Guide includes:

  • Clearly written, graphically-rich, easy-to-understand science lessons
  • Easy-to-follow procedures for the lab activities
  • Answer tables for the students to record their results and submit

The Teacher’s Guide includes:

  • Everything included in the Student Guide
  • Tips for the teacher on how to prepare for and conduct the labs
  • The answer key

Purchase Diablo Highway Kit

Build Custom Kit Purchase Kit Refills