Forensic science: how to turn your classroom into a CSI lab

Shivani Lamba is the director of Forensic Outreach, an educational organisation, and has put together some great tips for leveraging pupils’ fascination with all things CSI to introduce forensic science into your own classrooms. Here’s a introduction with a link for the rest at the bottom. This is from the Guardian…

Hold a murder mystery or create a crime scene

Forensic science lends itself to compelling scenarios: a mock-murder investigation in which three teachers might be implicated in the homicide of a headteacher, a mysterious body unearthed from the campus schoolyard or a priceless personal effect which has disappeared from an older student’s bag.

Choose a scenario which directly complements specific unit aims. For example, if you’re teaching with BTEC in science-grading criteria you would emphasise theory. A relevant practical we run, tailored to the applied science unit in criminology, uses published data on crime hot spots and invites students to determine whether these figures confirm prevailing theories.

In other situations, you could emphasise the development of soft skills, such as critical thinking and collaborative work. The practical component of our lecture on the body farm – a research laboratory where human decomposition is studied – ends with a classroom debate on the ethical issues involved in building such a facility.

For ideas on forensic-themed activity plans, check out truTV’s ‘Forensics in the Classroom’ programme and the Smithsonian Institution’s Written in Bone (a history-science crossover resource). You can get hold of microscopic hair or fibre analysis kits, available from science resource Carolina.

Day-long activities give you time to conduct an entire homicide investigation with multiple hands-on activities. Stage a crime scene in an unfamiliar school office and plant the material to be analysed by students during your activity sessions. An initial evidence collection walk-through gives students the opportunity to recover and package soil samples, find fingerprints left on glasses and even discover DNA evidence (Bio-Rad provide a brilliant kit). These can then be examined later in the day.

Full details on resources, supplementary activity and other advice at:  Forensic science: how to turn your classroom into a CSI lab

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