A woman wearing a white lab coat and gloves was bent over a tray. She looked up with a surprised expression. “Hold on a sec,” she said. “I need to cover these plates before they get contaminated.”

“What are they?” Maya asked. “They look like clear hockey pucks.”

Cooper swung an imaginary ice hockey stick. “Go, Scarlet Knights!”

“They’re bacteria growing in agar.” Professor Apple put the plates away. “Agar is their food.”

“It looks like gelatin,” Maya said.

“And wiggles like it, too,” Professor Apple agreed.

“Or like me.” Cooper wiggled his arms and legs.

Ignoring Cooper, Jamal said, “So those dark dots are the bacteria, right?”

“Close. They’re colonies of bacteria. I’m doing studies from local water sources.”

“You mean like the Raritan River?” Cooper asked.

“Sure, that’s one of them,” she said. “And smaller sources, too.”

“So, our next clue must be at the Raritan River,” Gabby guessed. “C’mon, Trackers.”

“Not so fast,” Mr. C told them. “The Raritan River is about 30 miles long. There’s no way we can search that whole length.”

“A clue?” Professor Apple asked. “Is that what brings you to my lab?”

“We’re looking for Dr. Newton,” Cooper said.

“I’m afraid you’re about 400 years too late.” Professor Apple smiled. “Isaac Newton’s long dead.”

“No,” Simon said. “We mean Dr. Trig Newton. He’s a famous mathematician who’s supposed to give a talk in less than 2 hours, but he’s missing. Pascal is his assistant.”

“Well, I’m afraid neither Newton, alive or dead, is here. Sorry I couldn’t help.”

“Thanks, Professor Apple.” The kids waved on their way out.

“Hey, Professor,” Gabby called, “you missed a plate on this table near the door.”