Crime solving in the classroom

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 4:00 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - About 36 students took their seats this morning in this class at Damonte High School anticipating another day in Forensic Science One. What they didn’t count on, a video message from their teacher Mr. Wilson.

He explains to the class he tasted something funny in his coffee earlier. He then addresses someone off camera, and abruptly disappears. Below his desk a dummy lays lifeless. It is designed to look like Mr. Wilson.

It is the classes job to collect hair samples and try to figure how who is responsible for the dastardly deed.

“You have to look for the small stuff,” says Delilah Gunderson a student in the class. “You can’t look for patterns or stuff like that. You have to come in with kind of open eyes.”

Those eyes used microscopes to analyze different hair samples to see if they matched any left on the body.

There are six groups. Each gets one suspect and a description of him and his alibi. Their job is to disqualify their suspect as the culprit through forensic evidence they collect and analyze.

“It is really neat to see them just engaged” says Erik Wilson the Forensic Science 1 Teacher. “Listening to the conversations going on. They are into this.”

Their analysis could also lead them to exactly who is responsible for poisoning and killing the fake Mr. Wilson.

One team not only took science into consideration, but also the alibis provided.

What they discovered not everything is as it seems, and there needs to be great attention to detail.

“We have to figure out if Bozo the clown did it,” says Ellyaunna Turner, another student in the class. “We don’t think he did it because he was…ok, so he was assisting with Pennywise which was the other guy, and we think he did it. But we don’t think Bozo did it because the hair analysis does not match.”

Groups presented their findings to the class as to who did or didn’t commit the crime. Mr. Wilson says the class is supposed to be challenging as it incorporates teamwork, problem solving, science, and exploration.

Hands on instruction beats note taking anytime.

This won’t be the last time these students examine a make-believe crime scene.

As a matter of fact, second period is just outside the door waiting to take their shot.