D.C.

Students become forensic scientists for a day at D.C. conference

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Students from around the country met in D.C. Tuesday to crack the case surrounding a mysterious death. It was a lesson in forensic science - one they don't show you on TV.

 

"Bob has a girlfriend," Tianna Perry, a student at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School, said.

Sherwood High School student Griffin Alcorn added, "And his girlfriend, who is a known drug addict, is also reported missing."

"She usually goes missing," Perry answered."But never this long...so they're trying to figure out if it was a murder."

The details - while grim - were all clues in the fictitious case. More than 100 students spent the day playing the role of forensic scientists.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences' Bruce Goldberger explained, "30 years ago, most people didn't even know what forensic science was, but today most people do, especially the young"

Once the students learned the scenario, they traveled to each station in the room, trying to piece together the case with the help of experts.

"We have engineering, we have pathology, anthropology, toxicology," Goldberger said.

The student event coincided with the Annual America Academy of Forensic Sciences meeting, so the professionals gave the teens a  taste of what it's really like on the job.

Paula Henderson, a forensic document examiner, said, "I tell them when you're writing on that notebook right there, everything you're writing on that top page is being impressed onto the second page... And we have a machine that can pick up those indentations, and you can read what was on that page prior."

It's with these tools that the truth becomes more apparent. 

Alcorn said, "At one of the stations, we matched a footprint in the mud to the boyfriend's shoes."

This line of work is exactly what Perry wants to pursue, and she credits her favorite TV show for sparking her interest.

"It's "The First 48", being a detective," she added.

Tuesday's lesson also offered a reality check.

Fawzia Masud, a Thomas Edison High School student, said, "I always thought that forensics was what you see in CSI, like we get results in an hour and the case gets solved in an hour. But it's not like that. It's a lot more hard work."

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