Murder, forensics, and the interrogation of possible suspects? Sounds like your typical CSI episode. But no! This is just your regular forensic science class at Jesuit. This year, in Ms. Boyle’s forensic science class, instead of taking a final exam like most classes would, the class had to complete an investigation using their knowledge in forensics.
The class’ final was a mock murder, where students were given the task of finding out what the cause of the victim’s death was. This year the investigation dealt with the “death” of Mr. von Schlehenried who was found “dead” in his office with no apparent signs of foul play. The students, in the beginning, were only given surveillance video showing Mr. Von entering the chemical prep room, getting spooked by someone in the chemical storage room and then having an argument with that individual (they were unable to be identified in the video) before storming out of the prep room.
Then, they also saw a video of what looked like Mr. Von suffering from a nosebleed as he ran from his office towards a faculty restroom. Both of these videos were taken the night of his death. Throughout the investigation, the students had to search the crime scene (Mr. Von’s office) for any evidence that they wanted to test in order to find any clues that could help them piece the events together and reveal cause of death. At the same time, students had to interview faculty members to see if any of the faculty members were involved in Mr. Von’s death.
Ultimately, if the students had the necessary links connecting evidence/victim/possible suspect and were able to solve the mystery, then they had a thorough investigation. What the students should have found out through evidence testing and interviews was that Mr. von walked into the prep room holding a glass of water. He placed the glass of water down on the counter-top and was spooked, which caused him to spill a chemical that was on the shelf into his glass of water (unbeknownst to him). Mrs. Sanchez was the unidentified person that scared Mr. Von but she was in no way involved. Mr. Von became upset and stormed out of the storage room to his office. During that time he drank from his contaminated glass (through testing it would have been apparent that potassium cyanide was the spilled substance), became gravely ill and collapsed in his office where he was found the next day. There were other red herrings embedded throughout the crime scene and also given by the faculty that required the students to filter out fact from fiction.
Throughout the first semester, Mrs. Boyle’s class learned all about forensic science, and their knowledge was put to the ultimate test when the final was interactive, instead of a typical final exam. Mrs. Boyle said they chose to do the interactive final because “a hands-on approach has worked so well in the past. Also, this investigation gives students the opportunity to work in units so that they can share the responsibilities in understanding how a crime scene unit might work in the real world.” She went on to say that a solving a crime perfectly consolidates all the information that the class had learned over the first semester.
This project was also greatly beneficial to students, as it showed them how forensic science could be applied in the real world. The main goal of this project was not only to test the students on the information they learned, but also to introduce them to how much effort goes into solving one crime. However, this was also an extremely enjoyable project to work on, as many students reported that they had a great time while completing the investigation.
Overall, this forensic science investigation was a huge success, the teachers were able to test the students while the students were having a great time! Mrs. Boyle would like to give a HUGE thank you to the faculty members that have participated during this investigation and in years past. She could not do this large scale investigation without your help and willingness to participate!! The response that she gets from everyone is tremendous and she knows that she can always find someone that is willing to be the next victim or suspect! Hopefully more teachers adapt this unique testing experience so more students can experience different kinds of education!
Stay tuned to The Roundup for more upcoming news in the New Year!