The Day the Police Came to Teach
By: Mary Kienstra on: March 10, 2016 in: Engagement
Yesterday was the day the police came to teach my class about crime scene investigation and forensic science. It was a big day. If you want to see kids totally engaged, bring in a police officer to teach!
My fourth graders have been reading mystery novels. So naturally, the next step was to study forensics, a non-fiction component. After all, isn’t crime fighting another form of mystery?
My students read articles from MUSE Magazine that described the reliability of the eye witness report, fingerprints, and DNA analysis. They compared solving crimes in the times of Sherlock Holmes to current day. So I contacted our local police department to see if they had a community service officer or school liaison who could speak to my class. And they did. They sent a crime scene technician along with a school liaison officer. The police came to teach!
The first thing they did was set up a crime scene in my classroom. They used dry erase markers to mark a design on the glass that looked like the glass had been shattered. Then they carefully placed fake broken glass pieces on the floor, added some fake blood splatters, and planted fake footprints across the room. Best of all, they added that intriguing yellow crime scene tape.
As the students entered the room, they looked over the crime scene skeptically. When the officers began their presentation, the kids sat perfectly in their chairs, listening to every word. At the officers’ requests, the kids moved around the room to carefully observe the crime scene, making mental notes of all the important things they observed. Next the kids learned how to collect evidence from the crime scene, being careful not to disturb any possible clues. The officers taught them about fingerprint analysis, gave them a little quiz of matching fingerprints, and finally fingerprinted each student.
Learning involves so much more than absorbing information from books. Real life experiences are the things that students will remember. I know my students will continue to talk about the day that the police came and fingerprinted them. This was a fun day, the day the police came to teach, but most importantly, it was an experience that extended their learning.
P.S. I left the crime scene tape up all day. You should have seen the looks as people walked by and looked into my room. Priceless.