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6/9/2013 6:00:00 AM
'CSI: Kingman' piques students' curiosity
Program designed to spark interest in math, science
Math tutor David Dean, left, shows Kody Bousman, a junior at Kingman High School, how to prepare a wet mount for a microscope. Bousman pulled out one of the hairs on his head so it could be placed on a slide and viewed for its thickness and shape.KIM STEELE/Miner
Math tutor David Dean, left, shows Kody Bousman, a junior at Kingman High School, how to prepare a wet mount for a microscope. Bousman pulled out one of the hairs on his head so it could be placed on a slide and viewed for its thickness and shape.
Kendal Rosenthal, left, stands still as Stephanie Pebley pulls a hair out of her head so Rosenthal can examine it under a microscope. The girls are seniors at Kingman High School.KIM STEELE/Miner
Kendal Rosenthal, left, stands still as Stephanie Pebley pulls a hair out of her head so Rosenthal can examine it under a microscope. The girls are seniors at Kingman High School.

Kim Steele
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Six local high school students are getting hands-on assistance with sagging math and science scores through a new program that incorporates tutoring and the analysis of fingerprints, footprints, hair, fiber, tool marks, blood splatters, glass breakage patterns and Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in criminal investigations.

"I love it," said Kendal Rosenthal, a senior at Kingman High School. "The program is very interesting and entertaining, and I'm learning a lot. I'm doing well in science, but math is a big struggle for me. This is a small class and I get more personal attention with my math.

"And studying forensic science makes biology fun. I didn't know we would get down to detail with every hair, fiber, footprint and fingerprint. It's just awesome."

Rosenthal was examining a variety of human and animal hair, as well as natural and synthetic fiber such as polyester and nylon, through a microscope Thursday.

"I think the program is phenomenal," said Tracee Tomkins, secretary for the Title III program that funds the class. "It gives kids a different look at doing math and science. So many kids are afraid of those subjects, and this program helps them learn it in a fun environment. Just this morning, these students were saying they wished the course would last longer. That made me feel good. It's a great investment for us."

During the course, a math tutor works with the students and biology is taught through forensic science lessons. Students will extract their cheek cells to test for DNA, make plaster casts of footprints to calculate height and weight, splatter fake blood on paper to determine velocity and where it came from, compare tool marks to see how they are made and view hair and fibers through microscopes.

The course also includes guest speakers from other departments.

"We've noticed some deficiencies in math and science among high school students, and we're trying to increase their aptitude in those subjects," said Dolly Crawford, a professor of biology and the program's instructor. "We chose forensic science because it lends itself well to transferring biology concepts to students. The idea is to teach it in the larger framework of scientific method, which will help students become logical and analytical. It will also give them an idea of a future career path."

Crawford said students are graded on classroom lessons, take-home assignments and in-class quizzes. During the class exploring hair and fibers through microscopes, Crawford explained that trace evidence, such as hair and fibers, could be left behind at crime scenes. They can tell forensic investigators where a crime was committed and identify potential suspects who came in contact with a victim. Students viewed the evidence and drew what they saw under the microscope.

Kody Bousman, a junior at Kingman High School, studied one of his hairs under magnification and described it as having a rounded root and a blunt tip because his hair had recently been cut. Bousman said he attended the course because math was difficult for him to understand and his science class had too many distractions for him to concentrate.

"The things I'm learning here are practical," said Bousman. "I never thought hair follicles would look so weird. I've only seen hair being put under a microscope on TV, and it doesn't compare to what we're doing here. Using forensic science gets you thinking about why evidence is there and who it belongs to. It makes it more interesting because you're learning things you've never heard of before and applying them to real life."

The classes are held at Mohave Community College. The college offered the two-week free course, which began June 3, as part of its new Math and Science Achievement summer program.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Article comment by: Auntie Susan

I am also very proud of my nephew David Dean! Keep up the good work!!!

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Article comment by: David Dean

I think this program is wonderful and I am very proud of my son David Dean who is teaching this class.

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013
Article comment by: Allan Gleason

I think the proliferation of "CSI" type TV programs is good for education because they minimize violence and maximize thinking and logic. They solve problems, something we humans enjoy to do.

As retired scientist involved with very similar challenges to those in forensics, I think this school program should be expanded even to younger, or even all students to improve their problem solving abilities.

Incidentally in my field, I didn't need an extensive knowledge of calculus required when I was in school. Science is not necessarily "all math"! The math I really needed was not required and I had to teach it to myself much later! It was statistics! If nothing else, please take that basic course... it will change your life! And I'll bet that no one involved in CSI will dispute that!

Hmmm.... Perhaps statistics is not required because no one taking the course would ever buy a lottery ticket -- and government certainly doesn't like that!

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