Forensic Science in the Classroom

Crime doesn’t pay, but learning about crime paves the way towards graduation.  

This semester, at Charles Ott Academy, our students have been learning about forensic science as part of their STEM curriculum while trying to answer the question, “How do I commit the perfect crime?”  From learning when a body expired based on the amount of cooling to DNA fingerprinting methods, students became enthralled in studying theories and techniques of what evidence is important to collect at a crime scene and what to do with this evidence to locate and confirm a possible suspect or suspects.

One of these tools forensic scientists use is gel electrophoresis, a process by which a DNA “fingerprint” is produced from a drop of blood or a strand of hair found at a crime scene.  This DNA fingerprint can identify a person based on the unique arrangement of genetic information in a person’s cell, ultimately placing them at the scene of the crime.  Thanks to a generous donation from Strafford Learning Center’s Founder’s Fund, students were able to use a gel electrophoresis instrument kit to compare DNA fingerprints of possible suspects and solve a fictitious robbery.

The semester culminated in a chance for students to create their own crime scenarios and offer their fellow classmates the power to apply their forensic understanding to solve each other’s crimes.  It has been a very rigorous and educational experience for all of our students this semester as they opened up new pathways of problem-solving practices to analyze and solve crimes.  Although students realized that there can be no perfect crime, they did walk away appreciating the perfection and practices of cracking a case.

Mr. Shawver