FLIES Lab Outreach Program Hosts Interactive Forensics Camp

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Ph.D. student Lue Cuttiford helping a participant with a microscope. Photo by Rob Williams

COLLEGE STATION, Texas—The Heep Center Room 108 was transformed into a lab of forensic science as several youths from the Youth Adventure Camp descended for the Investigative Forensics week during late July.

The group consisted of several ninth through twelfth graders from schools across the area that interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Throughout the week, the students were shown various techniques forensic scientists used and showed in a fun and interactive way how these scientists use science to solve cases.

This is senior lecturer Dr. Adrienne Brundage’s third year that she and Dr. Jeffery Tomberlin’s lab (FLIES Lab) members have taught the youths. Brundage said that this year’s camp was different in that it was more interactive and focused upon a case. She said that each activity will build upon itself to help them to solve a mock crime scene on the final day.

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Dr. Adrienne Brundage teaching participants the basics on searching a crime scene. Photo by Rob Williams

Some of the newer activities this year included having the students conduct a mock crime scene search where they locate different pieces of evidence and extracting substances. In addition, the students got to learn how to lift latent fingerprints, measure bloodspatter patterns, and DNA extraction methods.

“We really wanted to do case-focused activities,” she said. “Each activity they do adds to their toolkit for the final activity.”

The students also had the chance to use the same tools that forensic scientists use, including fingerprint dusting and lifting kits and microscopes.

During the final day, students were divided into teams to help solve a mock crime scene that includes all the activities they learned throughout the week.

Brundage enjoyed working with the students and said that it was a great opportunity for them to learn firsthand how forensic scientists solve crimes and science, as well as gives them a preview of a college classroom setting.

“This is really a great program,” Brundage said. “It really gives the students a chance to experience what it would be like to take a college level course. It’s so exciting and fun and I get to work with lots of budding forensic scientists. They are so determined and excited about learning!”

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