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Juniata Education Class Set Up Crime Scene Exercise for Local Elementary Students

(Posted September 19, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata Valley Elementary School students will be on the Juniata College campus Sept. 26 and 28 emulating forensic crime solvers on such television shows as "CSI" as part of a Science Education Methods course designed to give the sixth graders exposure to forensic science, while giving college students experience working with young students.

"One reason we are working with the sixth grade is to give our students studying elementary education experience working with older children," says Kathleen Jones, assistant professor of education at Juniata. "This particular course does not have a 'practicum,' or student teaching experience, so it gives our education majors another chance to get in a classroom before going on to their student teaching."

Two different sixth grade classes from Juniata Valley will participate in the project, which gives the Juniata College students more opportunity to work with smaller groups of students

The investigative "case" the Juniata Valley detectives will tackle focuses on snacks stolen from a professor's classroom in Brumbaugh Academic Center. The crime will be revealed at the elementary school on a videotape, largely to give the fledgling gumshoes a chance to learn some scientific investigation techniques.

Juniata's Science Methods course covers how to teach science and health programs appropriate to the elementary school. Typically the students learn teaching principles and methods, finishing by designing a science curriculum model.

On Monday, Sept. 26 and Wednesday, Sept. 28, the sixth graders will investigate at 3 p.m. one of two identical crime scenes in Brumbaugh Academic Center. Monday's crime scene is in room C-209 and Wednesday's crime scene is in Room C-230. The 3 p.m. starting time applies to both days.

Upon arrival at the scene, the younger students will apply the skills they've learned: fingerprint lifting and analysis, powdery substance identification, calculating foot size to height and comparison of tooth marks. "The sixth graders also will interview the suspects, and the suspects will be among the Juniata students," Jones says. "After the investigation, the Juniata Valley kids will return to the college on Oct. 3 and 5 to make their case based on the evidence and make an arrest."

Jones came up with the collaborative forensic science case after working at a forensic science camp at Juniata Valley Elementary. "With all the forensic TV shows and forensic science seen on the news, it's a natural fit to give both the elementary and college students a great experience," she says. "I think each set of students is really excited about it."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.