2013 CSI Girls Summer Camp

Let the Investigation Begin!

Logo_CSI Summer CampOur 3rd annual CSI Summer Camps were a huge success. During the week of July 8-12 we welcomed incoming 6th and 7th grade girls from the Dallas/Houston area onto our campus here at SMU. Our campers weren’t the only ones to join us either, as a number of teachers from across the U.S. also joined us to learn all about how CSI can be incorporated in their classrooms to teach a variety of STEM concepts.

This year we introduced a new and exciting feature to our camp series: live-blogging. We decided that it wasn’t enough to let the kids have all the fun, so the STEM-Works blog went behind the scenes of both camps to give campers’ families, friends, and the larger CSI and STEM communities an inside look into the camp experience. Readers were able to view pictures and read stories about the camps, and they also got to voice their opinion about who the perpetrator was through polling!

Don’t worry, it’s not too late to get into the action! This page contains all of the posts from the 2013 CSI Girls camp, so you can experience what it was like to dive into this CSI investigation!

Day 1 Morning


The crime scene

There’s been a kidnapping on campus! Good thing we have a team of CSI investigators-in-training to help solve the crime!

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Campers match eye samples

Unit Alpha immediately got to work matching eye samples to test their skills in identification,

and unit Delta completed a scaled sketch of the crime scene to aid the investigation.

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Scaled sketch

But it definitely has not been all work and no play… our campers have been having a great time getting to know each other this morning!

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Stay tuned to keep apprised of all the latest developments of our CSI investigation!

Day 1 Recap

Our super sleuths had quite a busy day today, as the first day of our girl’s CSI camp commenced. As with any camp, we began our day with an overview of CSI and how campers will be applying CSI principles throughout the week.

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It wasn’t long after introductions, however, that a crime scene was discovered by our campers! So our investigators immediately got to work collecting evidence and sketching the crime scene.

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Unit investigating the crime scene

But never fear… our campers weren’t expected to figure everything out on their own, as the afternoon brought us a presentation from the local branch of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).


Special Agent Don Goates with NCIS speaks to campers


After hearing first-hand CSI accounts from the NCIS professionals, our campers then learned all about change blindness. Change blindness, a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a change goes unnoticed by an observer, plays a major role in CSI investigations.

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Change-blindness activity



By the end of the day, the campers obtained information that will help them solve this morning’s crime. Here’s what we know so far:

– A police report describing that a kidnapping occurred at the Caruth Institute after police received a phone call at 8:55 am.
– The method of entry was lawful.
– A Suspect Line-up has been compiled for the crime, which includes information about the suspects’ identities, fingerprint types, whereabouts, and the types of markers they were carrying immediately after the crime.

Stay tuned throughout the week as we narrow down our list of suspects and find out whodunit!

Day 2 Morning

To give our CSI girls some inspiration to start their morning, SMU Law Enforcement stopped by to discuss what a career in law enforcement in really like.


Officers in full gear


SMU Law Enforcement

These officers discussed what it’s like to be a woman in law enforcement and gave a realistic view of what the job entails. One of our presenters, Linda Perez, explained that “police work is dirty, messy work, so if you don’t like to get a little dirty, it’s probably not for you.”

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Campers try on bulletproof vest

But the officers’ visit was not all talk and no walk… as our perpetrator left a fingerprint at the crime scene! SMU officers lead campers in an exercise to help them dust for the perpetrator’s fingerprint,


SMU Law Enforcement leads campers in fingerprint dusting activity


lift this print from a plastic bottle,


Fingerprint lifting tape




then evaluate the qualities of the fingerprint.


From there our investigators-in-training widened their examination from fingerprints to bones during the Forensic Anthropology Lab.


Campers learn the bones of the body


Forensic anthropology lab

Day 2 Recap

After hearing from SMU Law Enforcement and working with them to rule out some suspects by their fingerprints, and after learning how forensic anthropology can factor into crime scene investigation, our young detectives finished their day with a presentation from Dr. Sheila Spotswood, the medical examiner for Collin County.


Dr. Sheila Spotswood

Dr. Spotswood sorted fact from fiction for our campers and gave them a realistic look into the role that medical examination plays in crime scene investigation.



Camper taking diligent notes

So after a full day of CSI activities, our campers were able to rule out some of the crime suspects. At the end of day 2, here’s what we know:

– The suspect’s fingerprint type was “arch.” After looking at our Suspect Line-up, this discovery rules out the following suspects:

  • Ashad Agyapong
  • Venita Ellingberg-Buffington
  • Afrida Faria
  • Christine Formento
  • Teice Holloway-Willis
  • Susana Perez
  • Kelsey Riley
  • Jade Terry

The suspects remaining after the fingerprint activity are:

  • Sameen Ali
  • Toni Harrison-Kelly
  • Gayle Malvern
  • Amanda Quintero

So who do you think dunit?

CSI Day 2 Camper Experience

Since we’ve been doing all the talking up to this point, we thought we’d let a camper weigh in on this week’s events.

Brianna Jones

Brianna Jones

Brianna Jones, of Unit Alpha, had this to say about day 2 of the camp:

“It was awesome, the SWAT team came like if they were doing it like a real crime investigation. Also, 2 women showed us how to put on their uniform. Then we got to try it on, some of the stuff was heavy like the vest and the shield. Next, we looked and took fingerprints. Be careful with the dust powder because it can get messy. Then we did a fingerprint scanner and learned about the 3 types of prints, the loop, arch, and whorl. After that we used string and a ruler to measure our femur and height. It was fun even though it was math. Finally, a woman came by and talked about autopsies and how they gather evidence from bodies. It was gross but cool. I can’t wait until tomorrow.”


Jones during fingerprint dusting activity

Day 3 Morning

Two new pieces of evidence were found at the crime scene. This morning our gumshoes hit the pavement and traveled to the SMU biology labs to analyze the ink from a note written by our perpetrator.


Paper chromatography lab


and a soil sample he/she left behind.


Soil analysis lab

And when our campers found a minute of down time, they spent it playing around with Ms. Bone-ita! Get it?


Our campers are working to further narrow down their list of suspects, so stay tuned to see what they find out!

Day 3 Recap

After discovering some interesting evidence this morning, our CSI investigators got a crash course in biometrics. Wait, bio-what? Biometrics is a term used to describe activities that use people’s characteristics or traits to identify them. Yesterday our campers learned how people can be identified by their fingerprints, and today they learned how people can be identified by their ears…



and the way they walk, or their gait.


Gait recognition activity


And since we’ve been spending so much time focusing on the human side of solving crimes, we brought in our friends Officer Brenda Martin and her dog Caro to talk about what it’s like for the K-9 members of the force.


Officer Martin and Caro



When all was said and done, we made significant headway narrowing our list of suspects today. By the end of the day we identified the marker used at the crime scene as an Expo marker, and matched the soil sample left at the scene to the soil found behind the Caruth Hall. This leaves the following suspects left:

  • Sameen Ali
  • Amanda Quintero

Looks like our voters from yesterday were way off! So now who do you think dunnit?

Day 4

Day 4 of our CSI investigation began today, and our girl campers are closing in on the perpetrator. But before getting to work, our girls were visited by the Special Agent Marshall from the local branch of the FBI. FBI agents are often seen in television shows and movies, so SA Marshall separated fact from fiction to give our campers a realistic look at what a career in the FBI entails.


Special Agent Marshall is a tall guy!

Once we said our goodbyes to these professionals, the campers were back at it, continuing the biometrics activities from yesterday. Gait, iris, hand, and ear recognition were the name of the game this morning!

Stay tuned to learn all about the fun activities we’ve got planned for this afternoon… The rumor is that DNA is involved!

Day 4 Recap

After working through the morning’s biometrics activities, our campers spent the afternoon thinking about three little letters: D-N-A! After a wonderful presentation about DNA by SMU’s Dr. Rick Jones,

Dr. Rick Jones

Dr. Rick Jones

our campers spent the rest of camp in our DNA extraction lab. This lab allowed our investigators-in-training to experience DNA in a hands-on way, as our girls extracted the DNA from a strawberry!


DNA extraction lab


While the day’s activities did not rule out either of our suspects or reveal our perpetrator, campers learned many ways that people’s physical traits can be examined during crime scene investigations.

Day 5 Morning

Before our campers gear up to solve Monday’s crime, we thought we’d spend a little time this morning talking about lying and deception. Deception is such a hot topic in CSI that entire TV shows like “Lie To Me” have been devoted to the topic. This morning, phychophysiologist and cool jobs alumna Dr. Andrea Webb spoke to our campers about the psychology of deception.


Dr. Andrea Webb

Psychophysiologists  look at the body’s responses to psychological manipulations such as looking at pictures and listening to sounds. While Psychologists are interested in why we may fear things, a psychophysiologist will attempt to understand our body’s response to that fear. So what instrument is well known to measure these bodily responses? You guessed it, a polygraph test!

Our campers didn’t just learn about the polygraph test, they got a first-hand look!


Camper hooked up to a polygraph test

Some exciting things are coming up on our final day of camp, so stay tuned to discover the identity of the perpetrator!

CSI Girls Camp – The Gripping Conclusion

After examining all the evidence uncovered by the week’s investigation, campers tested their CSI knowledge during the final activity – the scavenger hunt! Campers went station to station, slowly piecing all of the evidence together. Once the puzzle was completed,  our campers determined that our kidnapper was…

Sameen Ali
Amanda Quintero!

But, all fun and games aside, we were so happy to spend our week with such wonderful campers, teachers, and staff members. We truly think that this girls camp was one of our best to date, and we are so excited to see what happens next week during our boys camp!

One comment on “2013 CSI Girls Summer Camp

  1. Pingback: Why we do what we do (and how we’re bridging the gap between our programs) | STEM-Works Blog

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