The Evidence is In: Forensic Science in the Halls of William Tennent

The William Tennent High School Forensics 1 and 2 stu­dents had a new cul­mi­nat­ing activ­i­ty this semes­ter thanks to a new part­ner­ship with the Center for Forensic Science Research and Education (CFSRE),  CFSRE’s vision is to “advance the field of foren­sic sci­ence for future and cur­rent prac­ti­tion­ers as well as mem­bers of the jus­tice sys­tem by pro­vid­ing inno­va­tion, men­tor­ship, advanced tech­nol­o­gy and exper­tise to pro­mote progress and qual­i­ty in the foren­sic sci­ences.”  CFSRE “offers pro­grams to edu­cate and train cur­rent and future foren­sic sci­ence pro­fes­sion­als at all stages in their careers”.  One of their sig­na­ture pro­grams, the Forensic Science Mentoring Institute, is a “non-profit, 7‑week, aca­d­e­m­ic pro­gram that spe­cial­izes in teach­ing the foren­sic sci­ences to local high school stu­dents”.

Our part­ner­ship with CFSRE start­ed last sum­mer when our Forensics teach­ers (Cindy Dale, Beth Karetny and Vanessa Schwoerer) spent a day at the CFSRE labs talk­ing to foren­sic sci­en­tists and col­lab­o­rat­ing to enhance our Forensics cur­ricu­lum.  After sev­er­al plan­ning meet­ings dur­ing the fall, CFSRE direc­tor Heather McKiernan, research sci­en­tist Catherine Brown and busi­ness man­ag­er John Briley, designed two sep­a­rate crime scenes (one for Forensics 1 and anoth­er for Forensics 2) and came to Tennent to set them up.  The crime scenes were tai­lored to cov­er the mate­r­i­al the stu­dents learned through­out the semester.

This cul­mi­nat­ing and real-life expe­ri­ence required that stu­dents apply the skills they learned through­out the semes­ter to process the scene as well as col­lect and ana­lyze evi­dence to solve the crime.  To enhance the expe­ri­ence, CFSRE employ­ees Catherine Brown and Meaghan Drumm, as well as vet­er­an state troop­er Alan Stewart helped stu­dents run each crime scene. The stu­dents learned the mechan­ics of run­ning a crime scene from experts in the field, an invalu­able expe­ri­ence for them and for our teach­ers.  11th grad­er Elise Wood thought that this expe­ri­ence “helped bet­ter her under­stand­ing of foren­sics and helped con­nect every­thing she has learned this year”.

We are plan­ning on grow­ing our part­ner­ship with CFSRE by expand­ing its scope at the high school as well as by imple­ment­ing oth­er pro­gram­ming in our ele­men­tary and mid­dle schools.  We are extreme­ly appre­cia­tive for what this part­ner­ship has already done for our Forensics stu­dents and we look for­ward to see this pos­i­tive impact reach more stu­dents in our district.