Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Suspects and Crime tape and iPads, Oh My!

My students are currently finalizing their Crime Lab 2013 projects. This three week unit is what pushed me to start this blog. I was posting pictures and updates on Twitter, and actually had requests to blog about the project! So here goes!

I started doing a forensic science unit 12 years ago. It started with two suspects and four classes of students. It has now evolved into having 137 biology students divided into investigation teams (one per suspect), 42 faculty suspects and one faculty victim. My colleague, Scott Fowler, and I co-teach the unit for three weeks. It is fantastic to have flexibility in our schedules to work and collaborate as we do. It is also wonderful to have the opportunity to interact with every single 9th grade student in our school. This year's major change: an iPad is assigned to each team for the duration of the project.

The apps that have been most critical for this project are Explain Everything, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iMovie. This is also the point to recognize Ed Patterson, our Director of Academic Technology. He has been our "go to guy" for all questions iPad. He is patient with my questions, and flexible to meet and work with students. Having solid academic tech support is essential.

First, students are introduced to evidence collection by Joan Turner, City of Suffolk Education Outreach Coordinator, and chain of custody by Matthew Glassman, a Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney in Suffolk, Virginia.  Walking students through a case prior to their assignment has proven to be very helpful.

Students navigate through the project by completing a series of tasks and labs that narrow the suspect list from 42, to 10, to 4 to the top two suspects. DNA profiling reveals the guilty suspect. The highlighted activities include hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, blood spatter pattern, drug analysis, karyotype analysis, blood typing and DNA profiling. Three key points of any good evidence collector are photos, notes and sketches. As teams progress through the lab, they are able to do all of this in one organized location....the iPad.

Bottom line, iPads shouldn't ever replace collaboration, conversation, reading, writing, and data analysis. Students need to interact with each other. 

Stay tuned for the forensic teams' iMovie "Mockumentaries" that are due by Friday this week!

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @eglassman757

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