June 14, 2013

Malynda Dorsey
Communications Specialist

VSU Wraps Up Inaugural Forensic Science Camp

High school students from across the state studied mock crime scenes and conducted investigations during Valdosta State University’s inaugural forensic science day camp, held June 10-14. The students completed activities such as studying pig bones and insects to create death timelines used in criminal investigations. 

VALDOSTA – High school students from across the state studied mock crime scenes and conducted investigations during Valdosta State University’s inaugural forensic science day camp, held June 10-14.

The camp included 14 students in ninth through 12th grade. Focusing on death investigations, students who attended the camp learned how law and science are brought together and used to solve crimes and prosecute criminals.

“This camp helped separate fact from fiction and myth from reality in terms of how the process works,” said Dr. Darrell Ross, head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice. “One of the first things we did was show the students photos from the television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Throughout the week, they learned how a real investigation differs from what they see on television and in the movies.”

Some of the week’s activities included creating and analyzing blood spatter at a crime scene, analyzing fingerprints and making casts of shoe prints.

“During the week the students visited Lake Louise and collected insects off of a pig carcass to understand how entomology, the study of insects, plays into forensics,” said Dr. Joyce Chan, professor of anthropology. “They also toured and viewed demonstrations at the crime lab. In addition, students focused on DNA and serology, the study of blood, by looking at samples of fake blood and fake seminal fluid.”

The forensic science camp concluded with an open house for the parents to see what their students did over the week.

The camp is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice and the Department of Biology. It included lectures and activities led by professors with varying expertise to provide several perspectives. Among participating professors were Ross; Chan; Dr. Robert Gannon, head of the Biology Department; Dr. Brian Ring, serologist and associate professor of biology; and Dr. Mark Blackmore, entomologist and professor of biology. The camp is funded by a strategic focus grant for high school camps, which was co-authored by Chan and Ross.

All of the students who attended expressed some interest in pursuing careers in law, law enforcement or military.

“This camp provided-first rate training as they would get as investigators out in the field,” said Ross. “Attending courses in a college classroom with professors giving lectures and leading class tours also provided them with an idea of what to expect when they enter college. One of our initiatives is to eventually offer a forensic science major at VSU, so this helps us address the interest in forensic science among potential students.”

Only one university in Georgia currently offers a forensic science major for undergraduates. If introduced at VSU, the forensic science major would include collaboration between criminal justice, anthropology, biology, chemistry and art.

As interest in the forensic science camp grows, Chan and Ross hope to expand the camp from one week to two or three weeks in the next few years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for forensic science technicians is expected to increase by 19 percent by 2020. Currently, the requirements for working in this field include a bachelor’s degree and experience in forensics.

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