HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO Grade 11 and 12 PHSS students analyze a 3D printed crime scene for clues.

Students solve crimes in forensics workshops

Geneskool visits PHSS and Eke Me-Xi

Using the power of science, students at Port Hardy secondary school (PHSS) were able to solve a miniature murder.

The fictional crime scene took place on a 3D printed beach and the students had to use forensic methodologies such as blood typing and fingerprinting to determine who committed the crime.

The June 22 workshop was a part of Genome BC’s Geneskool, which aims to introduce students to the study of genomics (the science that aims to decipher and understand the entire genetic information of an organism encoded in DNA).

The Geneskool workshop, which also took place at Eke Me-Xi, was presented by three volunteers from the University of Victoria’s Let’s Talk Science program.

“It’s a really important upcoming field,” said presenter Andrew Agbay, a UVic graduate student who researches Parkinson’s Disease.

“These activities give a fun perspective on genetics and genes instead of learning from a textbook or having a power point presentation,” said Agaby, adding “Presenting genetics in this way definitely engages the students a lot more.”

Students were presented with a scenario and an accompanying crime scene and were introduced to various technologies and concepts, such as the analysis of DNA electrophoresis gels, as they analyzed each clue in order to solve the crime.

“We have had a lot of students say ‘I really loved the workshop and had fun today’, so it’s been great,” said Agbay, adding “If we can get more students listening and more students learning and that is really what we are here to do and what it is all about.”

Presenter David Mora Peera, a student from the University of the Fraser Valley, who has a passion for youth outreach said he was glad to take the opportunity to visit the North Island with UVic’s Let’s Talk Science program.

“I think for all of us we started doing science because we were curious about the world around us and we were brave enough to start asking questions,” said Peera, adding “The thing we always try to encourage people to do, whether you are in kindergarten or 70-years-old, is to be curious and let that curiosity drive your life so you never stop asking questions and are always open to finding solutions.”

Agbay added that he’s thankful Genome BC collaborated with Let’s Talk Science to make the workshops possible.

“I have to thank Genome BC for making the [crime scene] kits because without them we wouldn’t be doing these workshops,” said Agbay, adding, “I think students who are in high school really value from something like this.”

Genome BC, is a non-profit research organization, leads genomics innovation on Canada’s West Coast and facilitates the integration of genomics into society whose major investors are the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada through Genome Canada and Western Economic Diversification Canada.

 

HANNA PETERSEN PHOTO The fictional victim and suspects can be spotted in model crime scene used to teach students about genomics.

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