Our forensic crews are back for another week in Forensic Investigators.  Monday is not always easy for everyone.  No one would ever want to be back to school or work, but Jacki, our Program Manager had something to wake up “Monday.”  She had the crews engaged in creating a Student Dictionary.  Like a word in a dictionary, students had to define themselves as a proper noun.  For example:

Kim, Bori (Proper Noun)

  1. Born in Athens, Ohio; 2. Has one younger sister, Sun; 3. Has one puppy-dog; 4. She loves studying “coffee” from beans to espresso.

Before defining themselves on a white construction paper, Jacki had them share first with neighbors what they would have in the dictionary.  The students started moving around a bit to grab a paper and markers.  They were allowed to sit anywhere they want working on the dictionary.  With this warm-up activity, we were able to have our own little gallery inside the room.

In the afternoon, Ms. Lisa from Illinois State Police spent time with us again.  She brought such a beautiful lesson, Chromatography.  “What does chromatography means?  It has two Greek words in it.  Chromo- and -graphy. Could anyone take a guess?” asked Ms. Lisa.  “I know what –graphy is. It means writing something,” said Oliver.  “Yes, it is. Graphy means to write. Then what do we think to write with? Why do you think we have markers with different colors here?” Ms. Lisa challenged the students to think a little deeper in finding the meaning of chromatography.  “It’s color. We see different colors,” said Tanaya.  “Wonderful! That’s right. Chromatography literally means to write with colors.  We don’t normally write with the colors, but it’s a terminology used for chemical changes or reactions with colors,” Ms. Lisa explained in details.  It was time for the crews to explore how colors would respond in water with a drop of alcohol in it.  Everyone had two of their favorite colors and made a dot with those markers on a piece of paper (already cut to be fit into a tube).  The dots had to be placed above the water.  We let the dots sit in water for a while and started predicting what would happen to the dots.  Most students thought that two dots apart from one another would mix together as the water starts absorbing the colors.

Let’s see what happens to the color dots!  It was a beautiful set of color layers!  Turquoise-colored dot would spread out with blue, aqua-green, yellow, and lime-green.  Such a a-ha moment for everyone!

For the rest of the session, Ms. Lisa taught what pattern evidence is.  Footprints. Shoeprint. Even tire-print.  Each and every shoe or tire has its own signature.  It is the way to follow tracks on each suspect.  Ms. Lisa let the crews see their own shoeprint, using the florist-forms.  With simple home-gardening materials, such a fun way to track our own shoeprints!  The boys, especially, loved stepping up on the florist-form and seeing their own Nike shoeprints!

Next day, we had an awesome forensic biologist, Mr. Ruben Ramos. He is a former DNA Analyst at Illinois State Police and he is currently working for the lawyers.  He brought some DNA analysis samples from the previous cases he used to work on.  It was fascinating to see that DNA analysis has a crucial part in catching the bad guys.  Mr. Ruben had the students match the suspects/killer with the DNA analysis samples on the screen.  Our crews were very engaged into looking at the samples and so quick to find the killer J  Before his time was close to the end, we had Q & A time. “What is like to be standing and explaining all this at the court?” asked Tanaya.  I noticed she was getting ready for what is coming at the end.  The Courtroom!  Yes, we are bringing our case to the court!  Back to Tanaya’s question, Mr. Ruben responded, “I was very nervous at the beginning.  I mean I’m always nervous even when standing on the witness stand, but my part is to tell them the fact.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Only facts.  That’s where we all need to be very careful.  You can’t tell your opinions.  Only facts based on what you’ve found.”


We all enjoyed having such amazing scientists, Ms. Lisa and Mr. Ruben.  We are very looking forward to what the rest of the week brings!

Week 2-1 - a Week 2-1 - b Week 2-1 - d Week 2-1 - e

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