High school investigators take to the woodsDuring a trip to the school forest May 18, Superior High School students found signs of poaching.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
During a trip to the school forest May 18, Superior High School students found signs of poaching.
Along with bones, blood and a shoe print they collected random items — a pencil, washers, keys and a bouncy ball — from the wooded site.
Natalie Kintop said these random bits of evidence would be analyzed and pieced together to find out what really went on in that spot.
“The bones are probably the most important,” said her classmate Sarah Goddard.
This isn’t the first time these students have come upon a crime scene. They’ve discovered blood in the locker room, a poisonous substance in a locker and pieced together the scene of a hit-and-run. It’s all part of a forensic science course that combines chemistry, biology and crime.
“I like the investigations, they’re pretty cool,” said Mike Jacobson.
Each quarter they get more and more complicated, said chemistry teacher Angela Johnson, who teams up with biology teacher Kendra Zupke to teach the Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) course to juniors and seniors.
“I’ll take their biology and we’ll just say how it’s relevant to CSI,” Zupke said.
The class puts typical studies on fingerprinting and blood typing into a whole new context. The class tackles major and minor investigations during the course of the school year. The work includes testing chemical compounds, studying handwriting samples, observing blood spatter patterns, chromatography, examining bite marks and making casts of footprints.
“I was really interested in forensics so I took it,” said Goddard, who is considering a career in the field.
Annie Archambeau took the CSI course last year for the same reason. The senior said it was quite an experience.
“It’s just not something you typically do in the classroom,” she said. “It’s so out there different and fun.”
Archambeau, who will enter the pre-law program at the College of St. Scholastica this fall, said the class gives students the opportunity to act out what they often see on TV, to find out what’s real and what’s not.
“It’s a great class,” she said.
This year, the 10 CSI students left a lasting impression on the school forest. Not only are they unraveling the poaching case, they also netted a $1,000 Northland Foundation grant to purchase five GPS units. The technology will be used for team building through geocaching, a process where high school students set up different GPS points containing activities and/or items and then teach younger students how to find them.
The grant will give the forest a solid foundation so geocaching can be taught there for years to come.
The first test run of the new units took place after the poaching site was processed. The CSI class spent the afternoon teaching about 55 students from Bryant Elementary School how to use the handheld GPS devices to find geocaches.
“It’s like a scavenger hunt,” said Sarah Goddard. “It was fun teaching the fifth graders.”
They picked up the technology quickly, she said, setting coordinates to find all 12 sites that were put together by the high school students.
“We all got to pick what we wanted to put (in them),” said Natalie Kintop, from antlers and turtle shells to feathers and bird nests. They also added a clue — a riddle or poem — to give the students a hint about where or what their next cache would be.
The high school students also used the GPS units to find a few geocaches around Superior — including one by the skate park and another near Northern Lights Elementary School.
Geocaching offers more than just technology and team building. There are surprises at each site, Goddard said and “it gets you outside more.”
Northland Foundation hands out $25,000 per year. Other grants earmarked for the Superior School District have purchased iPads for the autism program at Cooper Elementary School and helped start an Invisible Children group at the high school.
For Archambeau, who has been a youth member of the foundation for four years, the GPS units mark one of the first grants she has passed that she has seen in action.
“It’s nice to see the final results,” she said.
The final test for CSI students will come when they split into two groups to create their own crime scenes. Each group will then have to solve their peers’ case.