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CV students become crime scene investigators

Jim Spezialetti
| Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, 5:45 p.m.
Chartiers Valley students in Jodi King’s Principles of Biomedical Sciences started the school year by investigating a mock crime scene.
Submitted
Chartiers Valley students in Jodi King’s Principles of Biomedical Sciences started the school year by investigating a mock crime scene.
Chartiers Valley freshmen examine the clues at the mock crime scene in Jodi King’s Principles of Biomedical Sciences class.
Submitted
Chartiers Valley freshmen examine the clues at the mock crime scene in Jodi King’s Principles of Biomedical Sciences class.

A crime scene is not something students want to see on the first day of classes, unless the marked-off location is for Jodi King's Principles of Biomedical Sciences class at Chartiers Valley High School.

Students took on the work of crime scene forensic experts to determine the cause of death of a fictitious person. Students were tasked with finding clues in the mock crime scene to determine how Anna Garcia died.

King said the students were both surprised and confused when they walked into the classroom, but soon became excited when she read the 911 call information to the students and explained they were going to solve the case.

Unfortunately, the students do not solve the death case until the end of the year.

“That part is difficult for them,” King said.

The course is a STEM class produced by Project Lead The Way and is the first of four in the program. The students learn biology, scientific process and lab technique through this case study during the entire year. No textbooks are used for the course.

“The course is nontraditional,” King said. “It teaches many of the same concepts as a traditional biology class, but always in a real-world application. It also teaches about medical conditions and overall health in general.”

Part of the course is to introduce students to careers. The students will maintain a career journal, where they will research about 30 careers in the biomedical sciences. The students also maintain a scientific lab journal because another focus of the course is lab skills and technique.

The class started with the details of the 911 phone call between the neighbor of the “deceased” and the 911 operator. Students learn the time that police were dispatched and when they arrived with emergency medical technicians. Details about the environment also are given. Anna Garcia was pronounced dead and the site is considered a crime scene.

The students get a chance to examine the crime scene, which includes an unknown substance, a spilled glass of juice with a fingerprint, hair, a muddy footprint, a syringe, blood spatter and pooling, and vomit.

The persons of interest who were interviewed are the neighbor who called police, Garcia's ex-husband and his new wife, and a co-worker/friend.

King said the class is offered every year to freshmen and sophomores who are interested in biomedical careers. Throughout the year, the students get to become different professionals, such as crime scene investigators and lab technicians.

“They are working toward building a resume of skills for the workplace,” King said.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or jspezialetti@tribweb.com.

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