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Interested in Forensic Science at Belleville East?

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Juniors and Seniors who elected to take another year of science often are glad to have chosen Forensic Science.  This year, students learned to process mock crime scenes in the PAC lobby, in Mrs. Seel’s classroom, and behind the Gym Annex (yes, this resulted in a few phone calls to the office from the community!  Oops!)  Students admit that it may be difficult to determine exactly why and how these “murders” happened.  

Jonathan Simmons and Danielle Schlichter teach the class about a career in Forensic Toxicology.

In addition to processing scenes and correctly handling evidence, the student investigators learned about a variety of topics students of criminal justice must understand including the value of eyewitness accounts in solving crimes.  This led to research on the Innocence Project, an organization devoted to assisting men and women who are falsely imprisoned often based on faulty eyewitness testimony.  Fortunately, technology has advanced and DNA testing can often lead to exoneration of those who are wrongly imprisoned.  Students researched and taught their classmates about the vast number of careers in the Forensic Science field.  They also focused their learning on trace evidence and will continue during the start of the second semester.  After finishing fingerprints, hairs, and fibers last semester, students will be learning this semester about other forms of evidence including footprints, DNA evidence, blood evidence, toxicology, and ballistics.  The semester ends with a variety of activities to determine the time and manner of death.  Some students enjoy learning about entomology (the study of insects) to give clues about death.  Some students enjoy anthropology (examining bones) to understand the deceased.  They will use the data they collect throughout the year to evaluate a real homicide that was never solved to close out the school year.

Students were also fortunate to have the opportunity to meet professionals who work in the field.  Officer Cook, our school resource officer, visited each forensics class to discuss his work and answer questions for the students.  Students also met two US Marshals, Jim Jackson and Brent Broshaw, who educated students on their duties including protecting the federal judiciary, apprehending federal fugitives, managing and selling seized assets, housing and transporting federal prisoners, and operating the witness security program.  Students were able to handle the protective equipment the US Marshals use every day.   

The students were also treated to an in-school field trip with Jim Piper, a US District Attorney who discussed various types of evidence that is instrumental to being able to effectively prosecute cases.    He also discussed the “CSI Effect,” a phenomenon that results from jurors watching TV shows about crime and carrying those expectations into the courtroom.  

Students met two state police investigators, Michael Grist and Josh Easton, who answered questions about how to process crime scenes to preserve evidence for usability in court.  They were able to discuss some of the high-profile cases they investigated and how they helped bring the perpetrators to justice.

The class offers many opportunities to learn about criminal investigations while honing skills in math and science with many hands-on activities and labs.  Interested students must be Juniors or Seniors who have successfully passed Biology and Physical Science or Chemistry to enroll in Forensic Science.  The course has been popular since it was first offered three years ago.  It is taught by Ms. Becherer and Mrs. Seel with five to seven classes of students each year!  New next year, students who qualify may enroll in a Forensic Science Honors class. 

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Interested in Forensic Science at Belleville East?