Local youth can discover their inner detective at Lethbridge College this summer as they learn how to survey a crime scene through the eyes of a forensic scientist.
The hands-on fun is part of a new summer camp called Forensic Explorers.
For camp instructor Dave Maze, it’s a chance to revisit his old stomping grounds in a new way. The Justice Studies instructor is a former police officer who spent several years working in the Forensics Unit of the Lethbridge Police Service. He also taught the forensics course when it was offered at Lethbridge College about 15 years ago.
One would think that condensing the subject matter into a one-week camp for 11- to 14-year-olds would be a challenge, but Maze says that’s not the case. “Forensics is all about matching,” he says. “TV and movies make it seem like a complex science, but we’ve got a lot of fun activities planned to teach the basics.”
Some of those activities involve dusting for fingerprints, transferring fingerprints to index cards, lifting footprints, and making impression castings with plaster and biofoam. “With biofoam,” says Maze, “we can take a suspect’s shoe and press it down to form a three-dimensional impression. Then, we can cast it or photograph it and make a comparison to what we found at the crime scene.” Maze hints that students will get to take home their own biofoam shoeprint as a souvenir.
Camp participants will also get to work with a compound microscope to successfully match evidence that may not be visible to the human eye.
These aha moments are a big part of what Maze loves about teaching and there’s sure to be a few during the week-long camp – especially on the last day. After spending the first four days learning various forensic science techniques, participants will use the fifth day to work through a mock crime scene. “They’ll gather evidence, lift fingerprints and look for footprints,” says Maze. “We’ll set it up so they can apply their new skills in a simulated real-world environment.”
There are two Forensic Explorers camps being offered at Lethbridge College this summer. The first session runs 9 a.m. to noon, July 11 to 15 and the second, July 18 to 22. There are also several other camps available this summer including Culinary Creations, Dance Fusion, Ecosystem Explorers, Mountain Biking and introduction to carpentry and welding.
For more information on available camps or to register, visit lethbridgecollege.ca/summercamps.