Caution tape surrounds the lifeless bodies scattered around Andover High School’s hallways this week. Students and faculty are confused and don’t know why this is happening, but it’s not what it seems.
These bodies are actually fake, made out of balloons and pumpkins, and garnished with fake blood and tomato sauce as a part of AHS’s new forensic class. This class, taught by Ms. L’Ecuyer, teaches kids how to solve crimes using science. Although this is only the second year this class has been available to juniors and seniors, it has become very popular.
The rise in interest in forensic science is due to a theory called the “CSI Effect.” This theory says that the sudden interest in the subject derives from the growing popularity of crime investigation shows. USA Today addressed this issue in an article published on October 20, 2014: “As the popularity of these shows rise, schools have seen an increase in the demand for undergraduate courses and graduate programs in forensic science.” And these shows do get a lot of attention, with 70 million people having watched at least one of three crime television shows in 2006, according to the National Institute of Justice.
Mr. Sanborn, the head of the science department, believes that “forensic science has changed a lot in the last decade and there is a lot more technology involved. There has been a lot of exposure; students who may not have ever known what forensic science is now know from television.”
Ms. L’Ecuyer has been teaching this class for the two years it has been here and accredits her interest in the subject to the fact that it is “a great class because it ties together all of the different sciences.” The course is a combination of biology, chemistry, physics and problem solving. It also strays away from traditional note-taking science with more applied learning.
The twelve crime scenes around the school—on the balcony in the foyer, in storage closets, outside of classrooms—are a part of a project the class is participating in. For the project, students had to decorate and create crime scenes in groups with specific ending results of how the fake victim died. Then after the crime scenes were created, the groups swapped and then had to investigate another crime scene that was not their own.
AHS Senior Coral Berman takes the class and remarked, “It’s really interesting and its kind of like you’re the detective on the TV shows.”
They investigated these crime scene by applying all of the knowledge that they had learned in class to reach the original groups’ required causes of death. This includes analyzing blood typing data and hair evidence in order to try to decipher what happened at the crime scenes. Students also must dust for fingerprints, complete DNA testing, and examine blood spattering at the scene.
Ms. L’Ecuyer explained the reason why she created this project for her students. “The feedback that I got last year is that kids wanted to do more crime scenes,” she said, “so I had a couple of different crime scenes that I set up. But I thought one way to get them involved in more crime scenes is to have them create their own.”
The class was put into place last year in order to replace the previously offered zoology course. The science department decided it was a much-needed change to have a more hands-on class and eventually chose forensics. At first the class was only meant to be one section, but as the demand for the class grew they had to extend it to five sections.
Although this class isn’t recommended for the weak stomached, it still retains the quality of a standard science class while being more engaging for students.
By Sydney Bergan