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School: Ithaca High School
Class(s): Forensics, The Biology and Physical Science of Crime Scene Investigations
Grade(s): 11th and 12th
Subject(s): Chemical and Life Sciences
Class: Students involved in The Forensic Science courses dive deep into the science and art of crime scene investigation. Students use investigative techniques to collect and preserve evidence in laboratory settings and simulated crime scenes. The goal is analyzing and reporting on evidence that can ultimately be used in a court of law to prosecute or defend an individual. Students also learn about the history of forensic science, as well as build critical observational and eyewitness questioning skills. The emphasis in this class is hands on work; as teams, students look for, collect and process possible evidence. The first semester of this class addresses the biology of crime scene investigation, involving the examination of DNA, fingerprints, hair, pollen, and ways to determine time of death (for example, learning to consider rigor, algor, and livor mortis as well as entomology to predict when the death occurred.) The second semester of the course looks at the physical science of investigations, including how to interpret blood spatter patterns, analyzing fiber and textiles, toxicology, glass fracture patterns, and ballistics and firearms. Rather than take a midterm or final exam, students complete a final project by processing a large crime scene and all its evidence to demonstrate cumulative knowledge in the course. Students search and sketch the scene, collect evidence, and run all scientific tests back in the lab to demonstrate mastery of topics, and ultimately solve the crime!
Experts/Local connections: Cornell Entomology Department, Ithaca City Police Department