Walk into room 301 and you will find teacher Olivia Kennedy teaching to a captive audience of students. These students may just be fans of shows like Bones, NCIS or Forensic Files, and their enthusiasm for TV crime solvers is the catalyst for signing up for their Forensic class. In its fifth year as part of the Science Department electives, seniors are afforded the opportunity to learn just what forensics is all about and its use in solving crimes.
On a recent field trip, Ms Kennedy brought her senior classes to the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Community Learning Lab, where “students were introduced to what it is like to be a forensic scientist. At Novartis, students learned about the biotechnology techniques forensic scientist use in crime labs and about DNA extraction, amplification and identification using gel electrophoresis to match the crime scene DNA to a subject.” It was a hands-on day as students performed the gel electrophoresis procedure which eventually leads to a show of DNA matches. If TV cameras were present, they would pan to the “who dunnit it” character who has just been revealed through his/her DNA match! After the experiments were completed, students were treated to a panel discussion with Novartis employees from an oncology scientist to a robotic engineer. For senior Alex Kennedy, the panel discussion was integral to his appreciation of the forensics field trip. He shared that he “learned that Novartis is a worldwide company. People work there because they love helping their community, making a difference in someone’s life and are open to sharing and developing ideas.”
Elizabeth Saltzman enjoys the forensic class because it “it connects my love of biology with my fascination of crime scene investigation, specifically connecting to the conviction of suspects to using DNA evidence.” Olivia Notarangelo, like Elizabeth, enjoys the “problem solving” that is at the heart of forensic study. And always important to the classroom environment is that element of levity. For Haley Donaghey, “All the forensic science labs are fun!”
So, if you are trying to solve a crime, visit AWHS and find Ms Kennedy and her students. Who knows… you may be able to walk in the shoes of Mr. Sherlock Holmes with a little help from the Bishops in 301.