Friday, May 10, 2019

Mock crime scene allows students to apply classroom expertise

By Matt Pascarella

There is a common thought; especially in math and science classes: “when am I ever going to use this material?” For the second year in a row, Windham High School (WHS) along with help from the Windham Police Department, held a mock crime scene on Wednesday, May 1 and Thursday, May 2 on the WHS campus. This involved several classes, along with members of the media and witnesses.

Students inspect and gather evidence from the vehicle
found on school grounds 
Students from various classes will work together at two separate crime scenes for the next three weeks. One group will focus upon the victim while the other will analyze the vehicle involved in the crime. The mock hit and run case will culminate in a law class holding a mock trial to figure out who is the criminal. Real district attorneys will be present and will try to poke holes in their case, making it more realistic.

“The purpose is to have the students learn about forensic investigation and give them a real-life application for the skills that they’re learning in school,” explained math teacher John Ziegler. “Here, we’re giving them a great example of when they’re going to have to use math in real life...with a real career-based application to it.”

There are several roles that different classes are fulfilling. The math and science class are going to be evidence technicians; doing forensic analysis at the scene. The English classes are going to be the detectives, interviewing suspects and witnesses and trying to get information about the case and piece everything together. A journalism class will gather information from various sources and publish new developments in the case as they emerge in ‘Eagle Eyes’, the school's online newspaper.

Students will be part of a Google Classroom. It’s set up with different folders, where they can store evidence, have discussions and work together in order to solve the crime.

Evidence technician and junior Kathryn Lucas collected samples from the scene of the crime. “He was hit on the left side of his body. On the bottom of his shoe there is a scuff and you can see there is a scuff down where the hat and the shoe are, further down the road. There are scratches on his legs and his knuckles; he had a broken femur sticking out of his skin and has an injury to his head as well,” she observed. There was also a vehicle found at another location on school grounds.

“I think it’s good for a lot of these students as we’re connecting so many different classes, they get a chance in their classrooms to learn English, math, science, but now they’re in an environment where they have to connect all those dots,” commented School Resource Officer, Seth Fournier. “A secondary consequence of this is they get to learn about my job, police work. How that stuff all shakes out when you get a big scheme like this and how complicated it can be, which is important for me.”

This is a very engaging and exciting opportunity for students. They’re processing evidence and speaking with witnesses. There is a lot involved in this crash; a lot of high-level math. There are many variables in what the students are learning with the case, it makes it hard to not participate. Students are really getting into this case.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for students to make real life application to what they’re learning,” said assistant principal Phil Rosetti.

Officer Fournier added “I think it’s super cool. All my guys are really excited about it. I feel like next year it’s going to build because we’re excited about it now.”

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