CSI Day Camp Hits Long Beach, MS

On Thursday, October 16th, our STEM team hit the road and landed at Harper McCaughan Elementary School in Long Beach, MS to end our final Camp-for-a-Day with a bang!

This camp consisted of a fantastic group of 99 6th and 7th grade students from both Harper McCaughan Elementary School and Long Beach Middle School. These students gathered together to learn about the various scientific, technological, and mathematical skills that are utilized by CSI professionals.

After a brief introduction to the program, students were thrown into the throngs of a crime scene: a kidnapping had occurred and students were tasked with solving the mystery! Six middle school teachers helped guide the students through each step of the investigation. Throughout the day, students were given a rare glance into the world of CSI. Students were split up into three teams: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. The teams were then steered through a series of activities involving paper chromatography, facial recognition, and fingerprint dusting, to narrow down their initial lineup to three suspects.


Investigators narrowing down their suspects in the lineup.

Students enjoying a snack and learning about fingerprint patterns.

Our investigators were also treated to an exciting visit from the Keesler Air Force Base criminal investigation unit.

Students were pumped up by presenters from Keesler Air Force Base.

Crime scene suits provided by Keesler Air Force Base were a hot commodity.

Just when students thought they were about to finish up the case, another crime was committed. By utilizing the skills that they had learned throughout the day, the teams were able to determine that the two crimes were related and this helped them uncover the identity of the mysterious perpetrator!

We had such a fun time bringing our CSI Camp-for-a-Day program to another community and we are grateful for the equally enthusiastic participation from students, teachers, and school administrators. We want to give a special thanks to the 21 teachers who attended the teacher workshop the night before the event to learn the curriculum and take part in the camp. We are confident that this curriculum will continue to be shared and taught, and many other students will be able to learn how fun STEM can be for years to come!

May’s Maine Event: CSI Day Camp Travels to Kittery

We found ourselves once again on the road last week as we traveled to beautiful Kittery, Maine for our 7th CSI day camp at Shapleigh Middle School. By far our biggest traveling event to date, this day camp featured students from a variety of schools in the area, including Shapleigh Middle School, Rochester Middle School, Dover Middle School, and Portsmouth Middle School. Additionally, these students were accompanied by a variety of teachers, administrators, and board members from the area and graced with presentations by the Kittery Police Department, Maine State Police, Rochester Police Department, Wells Police Department, and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. We definitely had a full house in the best possible way.

The camp began with a warm welcome from a number of community members, including Shapleigh Middle School’s principal, Anne Ellis,
DSC_0005Kittery Police Department’s Police Chief Theodor Short,


Captain William Greene, Commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,


and Officer Jay Durgin—a K9 officer with the Kittery Police Department—and Detective Chris Farley—detective with the Maine State Police.


After the group welcome, it was time to get to work! Campers returned to their classrooms to discover that there had been a kidnapping! There was only one thing to do: examine the crime scene and collect the evidence.



One of the main pieces of evidence was a cup containing a fingerprint. To learn why fingerprints are a biometric unique to each individual, and to accurately dust for and lift the suspect’s fingerprint from the cup, campers received help from the Kittery Police Department.




Students also got to get an up close and personal look at some of the vehicles that law enforcement professionals and investigators use to do their jobs.


They also learned that crime scene investigation isn’t limited to us humans—K9s also play a large role in law enforcement and investigations.





Then it was back to work, as the campers processed a note left at the scene using paper chromatography and zeroed in on the perpetrator using face recognition. Ultimately, the campers had a wonderful time, met some amazing professionals, and snuck some new science and technology skills into a really fun day.

We were so happy to bring our CSI Camp-for-a-Day program to the first northeastern community of the program. The people of Kittery and surrounding areas—students, teachers, professionals, and administrators—were wonderfully welcoming, and dove into this program with a wonderfully open and collaborative spirit. Additionally, the impact of the CSI Camp-for-a-Day was extended even further during the teacher workshop, which took place the night before the event. This workshop allowed us to share the full curriculum with teachers from all over the area so that they could, in turn, utilize these activities in their own classrooms for years to come.





We would also like to send a special thanks to Maryann Minard, School Liaison Officer with the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, for all of her hard work in bringing the people of this community together for this wonderfully successful event. For additional information about this event, or any of our CSI programs, please feel free to send us a note. And for those of you who participated in this event, we would love to hear your take on the day in our comments section!




On the road again: CSI day camp travels to San Antonio

So, our relative radio silence can be explained by the fact that CSI camp season is upon us once again. Thus, on Tuesday, May 6th, we found ourselves in sunny San Antonio, Texas for our CSI Camp-for-a-Day program. This event, which featured roughly 115 6th grade students and eight middle school teachers, was kicked off by a wonderfully engaging presentation by local Air Force forensic science agents. Our camp director, and CSI camp veteran teacher, Jennifer Makins introduced this presentation, which focused on the main skills required to become a forensic science agent.


After getting acquainted with the world of a CSI agent, students traveled back to their units to discover that a kidnapping had occurred!


At this point, it was up to the students to use their observational skills to identify the key pieces of evidence that would hopefully lead them to their perpetrator.


The students were in luck, however, as the crime scene featured a cup containing the perpetrator’s fingerprint. It was then up to professionals from the Universal City Police Department to help the investigators extract the fingerprint through a fingerprint dusting activity,




then learn how the features of the fingerprint could help identify that perpetrator. The students learned that the suspect’s fingerprint type was a loop, which ultimately helped them narrow their list of suspects.

Another key piece of evidence was found at the crime scene: a note written by the perpetrator. Campers then discovered how to determine which type of marker wrote the perpetrator’s note through a paper chromatography experiment. Since each suspect on the suspect list was found carrying a different type of marker, this activity ultimately allowed the campers to further zero in on their perpetrator.

After taking a short break to refuel (i.e. eat lunch), campers learned that humans aren’t the only ones to participate in CSI. Both human and K9 members of the Air Force K9 Unit joined the campers to discuss how humans and dogs collaborate to investigate many different situations.



Campers loved the demonstration, and the dogs were in it for the snuggles.


At that point in the day, the campers had narrowed their list of suspects to three. However, they were missing a vital piece of evidence that would point to their perpetrator. That’s when they learned that a second crime had happened, and the authorities thought that this second crime was related to the crime campers had been investigating all morning. And sure enough, this second crime provided an additional piece of evidence: an eyewitness sketch. To prepare for the possibility of an additional piece of evidence, students learned how the features of the face can be used in identification through a facial recognition activity.


In this activity, students learned how to create ratios by measuring the distances between the features on a person’s face and how those ratios can be unique to each individual.


Oh, and they had a little bit of fun, too.


The last step was to determine whether or not the two crimes were in fact related to each other. To do this, campers looked at photos to see if the crimes looked alike

DSC_9919and examined the fingerprint type of the perpetrator of the second crime to see if it matched their fingerprint from the morning. After doing this, the campers did find these two crimes to be related, then used the suspect sketch from the second crime to determine whodunit!


As always, we had a wonderful experience bringing our CSI Camp-for-a-Day program to a new community in the United States. The people of Kitty Hawk Middle School—students, teachers, and administrators alike—were some of the best we’ve worked with yet.. Additionally, the impact of the CSI Camp-for-a-Day was extended even further during the teacher workshop, which took place the night before the event. This workshop allowed us to share the full curriculum with teachers from all over the area so that they could, in turn, utilize these activities in their own classrooms for years to come.





CSI Day Camp Takes Colorado Springs by Storm!

Last week our team traveled to the beautiful city of Colorado Springs for our 4th CSI Camp-for-a-Day. Ok, you may be thinking “4th? But this is the first I’m hearing of them!” So allow us to back up.

Our CSI Summer Camp program has been one of our largest STEM programs for the past three years. Seeing as how these camps only take place in the Dallas area, we thought it would be a great idea to condense the program and travel the country with a series of day camps. So, after a pilot program fielded in Killeen, Texas in 2012, we packed up our camp materials and brought our CSI day camps to a number of military communities around the country in 2013.

During our CSI Camps-for-a-Day, our campers are able to gain hands-on experience with the STEM behind crime scene investigation. While a one-day time frame isn’t quite enough to sneak in all the activities from our summer camps, campers are still able to gain CSI skills in order to solve a mock crime. By teaching fingerprint dusting and sensor, paper chromatography, and face recognition analysis, these camps help students around the country gain a first-hand introduction to our project and STEM-based CSI curriculum and gain an introduction to CSI careers.

So, now back to Colorado Springs. This event took place at the wonderful Falcon Middle School, and included roughly 90 sixth and seventh grade students and 6 teachers. These sixth and seventh grade students moved through a crime scene investigation activity,fingerprint dusting and sensor activity, paper chromatography activity, and a facial recognition activity. Students then applied these skills to fit all the pieces together and determine the identity of our perpetrator!

Fingerprint Dusting activity

Fingerprint Dusting activity

Paper Chromatography Activity

Paper Chromatography activity

Additionally, campers had the opportunity to interact with local law enforcement and military professionals. The camp started off with a presentation Officer Wes Woodworth from the Colorado Springs Police Department and Rachel Brown, an Explorer from the CSPD’s Explorer Program. These two presenters introduced campers to the skills and tools crime scene professionals use in their investigations. After the presentation, these two split up, as Rachel led the fingerprint dusting activity, and Officer Woodworth took campers on a tour of his police car.

Officer Woodworth and Rachel Brown

Officer Woodworth and Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown leads Fingerprint Dusting activity

Rachel Brown leads fingerprint dusting activity

Campers check out the police car

Campers check out the police car

Woodworth and Brown

Woodworth and Brown

Campers were also treated to a presentation by the Ft. Carson K-9 unit. These professionals introduced campers to a few of their wonderful working dogs and to the duties these dogs carry out.

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This camp was such a huge success, and we are wonderfully grateful to all who attended. Everyone was extremely engaged, from the students, teachers, and administrators at Falcon Middle School, to the wonderful guests from the Colorado Springs Police Department and Ft. Carson.

Falcon Middle School teachers and principal (middle)

Falcon Middle School principal (middle) and teachers

But don’t just take it from us, check out this great article about the event and this wonderful video, which was put together by District 49 media.

And just in case we made you terribly sad that you couldn’t personally attend this event, you can still participate in solving this crime through our “Closing the Case” scavenger hunt!