CSI Boys Summer Camp – Day 4

Our gumshoes made significant strides on day 4. First, campers witnessed a compelling presentation by Special Agent David Marshall with the world-renowned FBI.

DSC_2463Special Agent Marshall gave campers the inside scoop about what FBI agents do on a daily basis,


and how they too could pursue a career with this high-profile organization.


Campers (and staff) had a lot of fun during this presentation, but you know what they say: All good things must come to an end.



After getting jazzed about a potential future with the FBI, campers got straight to work processing some more evidence that was found at Monday’s crime scene. Our investigators were able to further narrow their list of suspect based on a soil sample found at the crime scene and a note written by the perpetrator.

It was suspected that the soil sample found at the scene came from the bottom of the perpetrator’s shoe. To find out how this piece of evidence could help the investigation, campers compared this sample with samples of the soil found at the different places that each suspect had been that day.


After looking closely at each sample,




investigators were able to determine where the soil sample came from. Then, armed with this information, they were able to make a determination about who they could eliminate from the suspect list.
DSC_2572The next piece of evidence they processed was the note written by the perpetrator. How did they do this? Through a paper chromatography experiment. Since each suspect on the suspect list was found carrying a different type of marker, campers were able to determine which type of marker wrote the note found at the scene

DSC_2799by seeing how differently the pigments in each marker separate when exposed to a solvent. In this case, the solvent was water.



While the morning was all about processing evidence and narrowing the list of suspects, campers returned to the wonderful world of DNA in the afternoon. Campers were first greeted by an after-lunch presentation by Dr. Teresa Strecker with SMU’s biology department. Dr. Strecker took some of the mystery out of DNA


and discussed why DNA can be so helpful in crime scene investigation.


Then, campers got to try their hand at DNA eletrophoresis. DNA electrophoresis is a technique used by forensic scientists where they compare DNA samples found at a crime scene with the DNA of suspects in a case.



Only one more day until all is revealed and this case is solved. Stay tuned for the gripping conclusion to this year’s CSI Boys Summer Camp!





CSI Girls Camp – Day 4

Today our investigators-in-training got straight to business with a visit from Lt. Kevin Clark and other members of the Denton County Sheriff’s SWAT team. Since no one likes being cooped up first thing in the morning, the girls were called upon to gear up



and man their stations.



After their call to battle, it was time to start processing some hard evidence found at Monday’s crime scene. Campers were able to narrow their list of suspects by analyzing a soil sample during the microscope lab



and find out which type of marker was used to write the perpetrator’s note in the paper chromatography lab.



After this evidence was thoroughly process, camper learned that DNA is becoming an afternoon theme here at our CSI summer camp. Yesterday, the girls tried their hand at DNA electrophoresis, and today the campers deepened their understanding of DNA through an engaging presentation by SMU’s Dr. Teresa Strecker


and an activity in which they extracted the DNA from a strawberry.




There are only a few steps left to solve this crime, so stay tuned for tomorrow’s gripping conclusion!

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.