Monday, May 20, 2013

The next future of CSI are at Oxford High School

It seems like CSI has been on the air forever and while the run will eventually end, a group of Oxford students hope to carry on the next tradition of crime scene investigation. Oakland Schools is partnering with various school districts to use modern tools to solver everything from accident investigation to homicides and have the latest tools to make sure the right conclusions are reached to solve modern day who-dun-its. The Oakland County Sheriff's department is also involved. In a story by the Oakland Press Diana Dillaber Murray, this STEM program (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) program is actually a league of high schools that compete for their own championship. This is pretty cool.


Oxford High School students use science, math skills to find ‘killers’ during CSI: Oakland Championships

Oxford High School student crime investigators came in first place in the first-ever CSI: Oakland Championships as they beat out teams from other schools to find the “killers” in each scenario.

Teams of students from each of the schools spent 35 minutes gathering evidence from a staged crime scene before a panel of judges and an audience, said Mike McIntyre, CFE STEM — Science Technology Engineering Math — Coordinator for Oakland Schools.

The forensics teams then analyzed the evidence for 80 minutes in a laboratory and presented their findings to the judges and the audience.

Although all five competing teams managed to figure out who the “killers” were, the Oxford High School CSI Team scored the most points overall from the judges and were named the 2013 CSI: Oakland Champions, McIntyre said.

The Oxford team, like the others, have learned skills to analyze crime scenes in forensics classes at their schools.

For example, at Oxford High, forensic students might use trigonometry to analyze measurements taken from blood spatter patterns to determine the direction of travel for blood spattered on a surface, explained Kelly Bollman, teacher coach for the Oxford High team, who plans scenarios for her students.

They look for the angle of impact of the blood to the surface and the height from which the blood originated.

“Using these calculations, students then show the location of the blood source three-dimensionally using string,” Bollman said.

Besides ranking as county champions for overall excellence, the Oxford High team also took the Biological Analysis Award.

Other high school teams and their awards were Birmingham Marian, which won the Presentation/Professionalism and Fingerprint Analysis awards; North Farmington, Tops in Teamwork and Best Forensics Procedures awards; Lake Orion High School, Chemistry of Crime-Fighting and Judges Award for Best Mathematical Analysis; and Oakland Schools Technical Campus Northwest, Physical Science and Most Observant awards.
The program at Oxford High, where students learned their skills, has three levels, each a semester course, Bollman said.

In Forensic Science I, students learn basic evidence handling techniques, observation skills and use of FACES software to create suspect sketches, hair analysis, fiber and fabric analysis, and the biological analysis of blood.

In Forensic Science II, students learn the physics analysis of blood spatter, techniques in toxicology, forensic entomology and the meaning and manner of death, time of death factors, some aspects of accident reconstruction, and tracks and bites.

The third class is an independent study in which students collect and analyze eyewitness statements, apply analytical techniques in forensic contexts, forensic anthropology and a topic selected for personal research. That could be profiling, DNA analysis, arson and fire investigation, alcohol and poisons, or cyber-crime.

The CSI: Oakland league was created by Oakland Schools, in partnership with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Crime Lab and the Clarkston-area Optimists club. For more information, visit the league website at