Benedictine Academy Contest Let Students Become “CSI Investigators”

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Students from Robert Treat Academy Charter School in Newark placed first in Benedictine Academy’s CSI Science Contest on October 1, 2011. Student “investigators” from Robert Treat are pictured with Benedictine Academy President Sister Germaine Fritz, OSB, after receiving their first place award.

ELIZABETH — The Benedictine Academy CSI Science Contest held at the all-female Catholic secondary school on Saturday, Oct. 1 brought together a total of 12 teams from seven area elementary schools.

The young student participants spent several hours investigating a staged “crime” and then attempted to solve the mystery surrounding it based upon “clues” provided by the Elizabeth Police Department. Girls in grades 6-8 participated in the event, which featured teams of 3-6 students, guided by a faculty advisor, performing basic crime lab investigations. Each student team featured an “evidence collector”, a “lab technician”, an “interviewer”, a “sketch artist” and a “photographer”. The first place award for solving the “crime” was given to Robert Treat Academy Charter School in Newark. Second place went to Hillside Catholic Academy. Third place was awarded to Holy Spirit R.C. School, Union.

Visiting students examine “evidence” from a “possible arson crime” during Benedictine Academy’s “CSI Science Contest” held at the school’s Elizabeth campus on October 1. Pictured are students from Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Elizabeth (l-r) Cristina Gomes and Gabby Esteves.

All eyes were on members of the Elizabeth Police Department’s “Crime Scene Investigation” unit and the Elizabeth Fire Department’s Rescue One Squad at the start of the event, as they staged what was described as “a possible arson crime” in the parking lot of the Academy. As part of the exhibition, Rescue One staged an “accident” with “injuries” to demonstrate how an arson crime can originate. They also enacted a vehicle “extraction” for students to observe. CSI student participants were allowed to investigate the object of the “possible arson attempt”- a car that had been severely burned.

After examining the burned vehicle and taking notes, the students spread out in numerous “investigation rooms” (classrooms).The police detectives on hand assisted by helping students piece together “clues” from “evidence” presented to the various investigative teams. They also offered insights into how the unit conducts analysis of such “crimes”. The student “crime scene investigators” examined “crime scene evidence” such as “fingerprint smudges”, “blood”, and “DNA” that they had collected, using microscopes and other technology in Benedictine Academy’s new interactive science lab.

Benedictine Academy science department faculty member Tom Randle coordinated the event along with Elizabeth Police Sergeant Mike Jones. Elizabeth Police Detectives Neal Coleman, Joe Garcia, David Rosa, Mickey Colon, Andy Cox and Paul Pasternak participated and assisted students in their investigations. Faculty members from Benedictine Academy were present to help with investigations and logistics. The other schools that participated in the CSI Contest were: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Elizabeth; St. Mary and St. Elizabeth Academy, Linden; St. Genevieve, Elizabeth; and St. Joseph’s, Roselle. All students received certificates for participating.

Making the “investigations” as realistic as possible, the Elizabeth Police Department went out of its way to create “a crime scene” for students to explore during the “CSI Science Contest” at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on Saturday, October 1. Members of the Elizabeth Police Department’s “Crime Scene Investigation” unit, and, the Elizabeth Fire Department’s Rescue One Squad, staged what was described as “a possible arson crime” in the parking lot of the Academy. As part of the exhibition, Rescue One staged an “accident” with “injuries” to demonstrate how an arson crime can originate. They also enacted a vehicle “extraction” for students to observe. Students are pictured checking the scene of the “accident.”

Students watch the vehicle extraction as members of the EFD remove Benedictine Academy student “victim” Martha Devia.

Students examine the car involved for possible arson clues.

Students examine the car involved for possible arson clues.

Spread out in numerous “investigation rooms” (classrooms), and then working in Benedictine Academy’s new interactive science lab, the “crime scene investigators” (students) pieced together clues from evidence presented to the various investigative teams. Pictured learning fingerprint dusting techniques with Elizabeth Police Detective Neal Coleman are (l-r) Gianna Lepanto, Caitlin Diaz and Ahdia Barker, all from St. Mary and St. Elizabeth School in Linden.

Students were totally engrossed in examining “evidence” during the “CSI Science Contest” held at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on October 1. Pictured in the Academy’s science lab are (l-r) Julia Hayes and Halle Sarkodie of Holy Spirit School in Union, examining a “hair” found at the scene of the “crime”. Girls in grades 6-8 from seven area elementary schools participated in the event, which featured teams of 3-6 students, along with a faculty advisor, performing basic crime lab investigations.

Tom Randle (right), faculty member in the Science Department at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth , worked with the student “investigators” in the school’s new interactive science lab during the “CSI Science Contest” on October 1. Randle is pictured advising Gianna Lepanto of St. Mary and St. Elizabeth School in Linden. The students enjoyed the bonus of working in a brand new lab complete with state-of-the-art technology such as probes and embedded labs with real-time data analysis.

Anticipation built as students formed teams and introduced themselves prior to the start of the CSI Science Contest at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on October 1. Pictured are the Hillside Catholic Academy “investigators”- (l-r) Julie Soalheir, Cristina Gomes, Daniella Rivera, Grace Valero, Diana Linares, Maureen Audige, Olga Jimenez, Valentina Zarquero, Chrismarie Castano and Gabby Esteves.  (All photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)


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