CSI Clarkdale: 7th graders learn about criminal investigation, apply STEM concepts
Philip Wright, Verde Independent, March X, 2010
CLARKDALE – Seventh-grade students at Clarkdale-Jerome School became Crime Scene Investigators Monday. They investigated a mock homicide in the school gymnasium.
The school’s Resource Officer Robert Church has put on these CSI scenarios for his students for several years. Church develops two entire crime scenes – for both seventh-grade classes — along with victims and planted evidence. Then the students investigate.
“I set up identical crime scenes and each class processes their own crime scene,” Church said.
Church knows how the crime played out, who the key witnesses are and who the murderer is. The students must ask the right questions to develop their witnesses and finally gain access to the guilty person.
To do this, the students collect evidence, have the evidence analyzed, obtain search warrants, conduct interviews and, if they do everything correctly, make an arrest.
During the process, students not only learn how a criminal investigation unfolds but also how to apply much of the science and math they have been learning in class.
“They’re working on state standards (for AIMS),” Church said. They apply those standards through skills in inquiry, using data tables, comparison and analysis, forming a hypothesis and supporting it, and writing detailed reports.
As a resource officer, Church must teach 180 hours of law-related topics. He said the study of forensic science fits that requirement. He also teaches civics classes for eighth-grade students. For that class, Church puts on a mock trial, and he introduces them to actual laboratory processes used to analyze evidence.
Church’s students also learn such topics as juvenile law and discuss subjects such as bullying.
Eighth-graders also have units on street law and consumer law.
The program is funded by the State of Arizona in partnership with the Arizona Department of Education and the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education.