October 23, 2014  

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Forensic Files Camp Gives Students Chance to Become Crime Investigators

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"Survivor: Forensic Files Summer Academy" participants learn about insects while touring the lab of Southern biology professor Don Yee last summer. (Submitted photo)

Students who enjoy the television drama “CSI” will want to participate in the hands-on experience provided by two University of Southern Mississippi forensic files camps set for later this month.

Titled, “Survivor: Forensic Files Summer Academy,” the camps are scheduled for June 20-25 (rising 4th-7th graders) and June 27-July 2 (rising 8th-12th graders). The summer program, which began in 2005, is sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences at Southern Miss.

“Survivor” participants will engage in surface and burial recovery, crime scene investigation, DNA analysis and other forensic science techniques. They will also utilize skills and techniques learned throughout the week, including the understanding of insect development patterns to estimate elapsed time, identification of individuals from skeletal remains and the analysis of blood spatter, bite marks and fingerprinting to solve a problem.

“We are going to teach them the same techniques that are used every day to solve crimes,” said Dr. Aimée Thomas, director of the Biological Sciences Learning Center at Southern Miss. “Our objective is to teach them the science behind crime scene investigation.”

Thomas notes that hosting camps of this nature are a productive way to keep students actively engaged in the scientific process during the summer months, while also increasing scientific literacy through informal biology education programs. Experimental learning is a key component of the week-long camp but collaborative group work is also encouraged.

And what about the payoff?

 “This camp provides exposure to the resources and educational programming that occurs on the USM campus,” said Thomas. “By working with USM professors, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, participants learn what it takes to be successful in college. The Biological Sciences Department benefits by teaching future students about the research that we do here at USM.”

The deadline to register is the Friday before camp begins. The camp fee is $315 which includes room, board, T-shirt, recreational activities and limited accidental insurance. To download an application visit www.usm.edu/biology/camp.htm or contact Thomas via e-mail at aimee.thomas@usm.edu