Washington Advanced Science Students Discover STEM with JCC Collaboration

“What kind of tools do we use to lift fingerprints?” asked Jamestown Police Department Captain Todd Isaacson to a group of Washington Middle School students.

“Dust?” asked one student.

“Actually, it’s volcanic ash. You can use different colors of volcanic ash depending on the surface color. Other tools we might use in lifting fingerprints are brushes, tape and paper. You are all lucky today to receive your own fingerprint kit to try to lift prints. Why do you think science and math might be important when we are looking for evidence to catch a bad guy? Because, by using science and math, we can collect evidence that tells the story of the crime, which is important to the court of law to convict someone.”

Detectives Isaacson, Floyd Kent and Kevin Conlan from the Jamestown Police Department recently met with Washington Middle School students during an after school enrichment program through JCC. Students learned all about Crime Scene Investigations. This course provided an overview of Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) techniques and methods used for successful police investigations and arrests. Topics included types of evidence including fingerprints, DNA, fibers, and blood, vocabulary used to describe types of evidence, and what to look for at crime scenes. The second day of practicum included hands-on crime scene finger printing wherein students were able to dust a fingerprint and lift the fingerprint using the same techniques as crime scene investigators.

The CSI course sought to enhance student critical thinking competencies through active engagement and deductive reasoning. Students were given an array of crime scene scenarios that required them to apply the knowledge they have acquired through their academics to solve crimes. The CSI course was just a snap shot of the skills necessary to becoming an effect crime scene investigator.

“The goal of the CSI session was to highlight the value of their scholastic comprehension in science, math, and ELA, and how this can be applied and analyzed to increasing effectiveness in Crime Scene Investigations,” said Detective Isaacson. “It is important for local community organizations, like the JPD, to talk to students because many local professional organizations have employs with advanced and terminal degrees in subject matter that aid students with learning. When scholar practitioners or subject matter experts are able to provide instruction paralleling the efforts of public school teachers it affirms and validates the quality of education the children are receiving.”

Twenty Washington Middle School students are participating in a pilot program featuring instruction at JCC with Washington Science & Advanced Science STEM Program teacher, Kay Eklum.  A committee of area educators and community members interested in STEM programming approached Washington Middle School to continue the Science Across the Curriculum, an initiative that was first launched at Holy Family Catholic School. The program provides exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math with courses such as “Topography of NYS,” Electricity & Circuits,” “DNA: How do we Find it?” and “Medications and Math.”

STEM program participants explore real world applications while expanding their problem solving and critical thinking skills in classrooms and labs on a college campus. Appropriate topics that coincide with regular classroom instruction are devised by JCC’s Center for Continuing Education and Washington School personnel. Exposure to STEM-related careers, hands-on activities, and college readiness are among the additional benefits that STEM program participants can obtain.


posted on 05/02/2013 - filed under: Academics, Middle School, Spotlight