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.