Normally crime scene caution tape set up at a high school—or anywhere else, for that matter—isn't a positive situation. But at Nooksack Valley High School, the caution tape was all part of a unique class focused on forensics a new science class offered at the school.
"We have heard from other teachers that students have expressed appreciation for forensics," says Emily Walters, NVHS teacher. "At conferences, many students told me this was their favorite class. It's a fun change to the 'normal curriculum.' A lot of students have experience with crime shows, so it's been a fun connection point."
In the class available for upper classmen, students learn how to search crime scenes, the process of collecting and analyzing different types of evidence, such as hair, fibers, fingerprints and blood splatter, and apply that knowledge to mock crime scenes and real-life cases.
With mock crime scenes sometimes set up around the campus either in the science classroom or unused spaces not part of the typical school day, Walters says students have enjoyed the opportunity to engage in a real-world science example.
"Crime scenes have included fake blood where students had to use observation skills to make a prediction of what happened," she says. "Other scenes have students collecting evidence from around the school."
Recently, students ran a fiber burn lab that saw students observing and analyzing how different fibers burn and then compared that to mock evidence.
In one real-life example, students came upon a mock crime scene, listed evidence and created a potential story. "The goal of this activity was to show how easy it is to jump to conclusions," Walters says, "as a seemingly murder scene was actually an experiment gone wrong that turned into a bloody nose."
Giving students options through the addition of a forensics class has proven a popular addition to the NVHS curriculum.