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The snowball effect creates the Forensics Club

March 31, 2015

During one of our many conversation @benarcuri and I decided that we need to try to do a lab that incorporates both Biology and Chemistry.  Ben would do a portion of the lab with his senior chemistry students and then I would do the other portion with my senior biology students.  We figured we could find a way to apply our subject areas in a way where there is overlap.  ~Snowball rolled up and packed between our gloves~snowball

We weren’t planning anything big.  Perhaps one lab where we run a DNA sample.  The chemistry group could work with the buffer solution and the biology students could run the gel electrophoresis.   ~little snowball dropped at the top of a snowy hillside~

We then began to think about what the running gel would look like.  It has been many years since I did one in university so we hit the internet. We came across a kit that allowed students to test multiple DNA samples and compare the DNA evidence at the scene of the crime.  ~Snowball is beginning to roll and gain momentum~

We thought, DNA is great but how about fingerprints?  ~Snowball is getting bigger~

How about blood sample pattern analysis?  Hair samples? ~Bigger and bigger~Snow ball

Are we just going to have a bunch of independent labs?  Where is the story?  Are we going to create a CSI worthy story to keep the students interested?  ~Snowball has grown to an obscene size and is speeding out of control~85618456

Uh oh…we have a problem.  How are we going to do this and continue to get through our content-heavy curriculum?  How are we going to plan this massive undertaking with just the 2 of us planning it.  ~Bam! Monstrous snowball hits the side of a building and explodes~6556031529_9f2841a637

The solution…create the forensics club and open it up to all students that are interested (we figured we would get 15 or so interested students in gr 9-12).  We also reached out to our staff for help.  Luckily, our entire science dept, admin, and another couple staff members were willing  to help out.  ~Blown apart snowball is now gathered up and put back together by numerous helping hands~


With our giant snowball created and hopefully under control, here is what the Forensics Club is going to look like:

We found a Dinner Party Murder Mystery online and adapted the story so that it fits with the labs we planned.  Each piece of evidence (each lab) will lead to more evidence or to a suspect.  Here are the labs:

Bloodstain pattern analysis and Blood typing

Fingerprint collection and analysis.  We are lucky and have a law enforcement officer that specializes in evidence collection leading us through the process.

Identification of unknown white powder

Hair analysis

Physics Lab (by the physics dept) to figure out the trajectory and force of the murder weapon

DNA Gel Electrophoresis

Morgue visit where the Forensics Pathologist will show the students around and show them what her job consists of.

We advertised this to our school and held a meeting to determine interest levels.  We were absolutely floored with the amount of students interested. There was so much interest that we had to limit the club to grade 12s (We plan to do this again and the 12s obviously won’t be at the school next year like the others will).  After expectations and levels of commitment were expressed we still had 46 confirmed club participants.

There will be some twists and turns around the way but, in the end, the evidence should point to one suspect. Each group of students will submit their findings in the end.

Up first is the blood lab…I’ll post another once the first lab is finished

I hope it all goes as planned!  It should be an exciting journey

Scott Harkness (@hark07)

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