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CSI (Read more)

“Elementary, my dear Watson!”

Cross-Curricular Class Addresses Crime and the Science to Solve It


            The methods are more sophisticated than those used by Sherlock Holmes, but the skills are the same: observation, analysis, and deduction.

            In Crime Scene Investigation, a year-long elective course at St. Joseph High School, students begin in the English classroom where they read and discuss crime fiction and non-fiction. They analyze crime from various perspectives and apply critical thinking to the social and moral dilemmas of all the people affected by crime.

            “There are many variables in an incident of crime,” said Nicole Muchowicz, English teacher at SJHS. “We look at how literature provides alternate perspectives and we use these as a basis for analysis.”

            “We read a number of case studies and look at patterns in behavior for groups of criminals,” said Nick Dowdle, Westchester resident and senior. “We also did some handwriting analysis.”

            Students move from the English classroom to the science lab where Stephanie Calderon, science teacher, leads students through those elements of a crime which have forensic analysis as their base.

            One of the activities in which these students participate is the investigation of a crime scene staged by Ms. Calderon.

            “Instead of looking at photographs of a crime scene, I wanted students to do some hands-on work. They sketched objects, took photographs from several views, made measurements, and we talked about what they observed. This helped students realize that a crime is generally not solved in an hour as it is on television.”

            “It was a good class,” said Westchester resident and senior Kalen Rhodes. “The focus was on detail, taking good pictures and recording measurements. One of the hardest things was not contaminating the crime scene. There were lots of investigators in the room.”

            “Everything at the crime scene could be approached scientifically,” said Skylar Grammas, Westchester resident and senior at SJHS. “We then bring the observations and measurements back to the classroom and talk DNA and fingerprints.”

            “Forensic science includes a large number of related areas,” Calderon added, “including hair analysis, fibers, fingerprints, soil examination, entomology, glass evidence, tool marks, firearms, and ballistics. Each week we add another layer of analysis.”       

Good luck, CSI unit! The solution is within your reach!