CSI class piques student interest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2009

FERRIDAY — Arterial sprays. Blood spatters. Dusting for fingerprints. These are all common in one Ferriday High School classroom.

But it isn’t the scene of some unfortunate school violence — far from it. It’s a science class.

For the past two years, Ferriday High has offered a forensic science class, and the students who take it walk away schooled in basic crime scene investigation.

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The class found its origins three summers ago when the school district hosted a forensic science camp to target at-risk students in an effort to get them interested in science, teacher Myra Price said.

The camp was a success, and from there an existing class was adapted to teach forensics.

“We more or less made Biology II into a forensic anatomy class,” Price said.

In the class, the students wear white lab coats, and some days they may work studying drops of blood to determine from how high and what angle the drop fell. On other days they may get a model skeleton out and try to reconstitute it one bone at a time.

And that skeleton work will be harder than just rearranging bones. Price said when students are tested on the skeleton, they will have to identify the race, age, sex and height of the skeletons.

The class also learned how to lift fingerprints from a police trainer.

Some things can only be so realistic, however.

The blood work has to be done with either homemade blood — caro syrup and cocoa — or theatrical prop blood, and the DNA analysis has to be done on paper since the high school doesn’t have the necessary equipment.

But junior Aaron Davis, 16, said he’s enjoyed the class.

“I was always interested in the crime scene field, so I decided I would take the class and learn about forensics,” he said.

“I want to see what it is like to go through all the steps (of crime scene analysis) and do it properly.”

Senior Xavier Allen, 17, said he originally took the class as a substitute for fine arts, but has enjoyed it, especially learning how to lift fingerprints.

“It was a mess, using the powder and brush,” he said. “Then we learned how to lift them off of glass and surfaces.”

And for senior Angelica Woods, 17, the class was only a step forward.

“I want to explore forensics when I get older,” she said.

The school district will do another forensics camp next summer, Price said.