Middle School Students Use CSI Techniques To Solve “Crime”

ELIZABETH — The Benedictine Academy CSI Science Contest held at the all-female Catholic secondary school in Elizabeth on Saturday, Oct. 5 brought together a total of eight teams from four area elementary schools. The 48 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 included teams of students guided by a faculty advisor, performing basic crime lab investigations. Each student team featured a team leader, an “evidence collector”, a “lab technician”, an “interviewer”, a “sketch artist” and a “photographer.”

The first place award for solving the “crime” was won by Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School of Newark. Second place went to St Genevieve School, Elizabeth. Third place was awarded to St. Joseph the Carpenter School, Roselle. The fourth school participating in the CSI Contest was Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy of Elizabeth. All students received certificates for participating.

Benedictine Academy was transformed into a virtual, interactive “Police and Fire Department investigation scene” for the duration of the four-hour CSI student event. It began in the school cafeteria, with all eyes on members of the Elizabeth Police Department’s “Crime Scene Investigation” unit, as they interrogated two “suspects”, possible “burglars”, who had been “arrested” for “driving under the influence” after “crashing their car into another vehicle.”

After viewing the simulated “arrest” and “interrogation”, all students participating in the CSI event then moved to the school parking lot, where the Elizabeth Fire Department staged a response to the aforementioned car crash which would have occurred prior to the arrests, involving the two “suspects” and an innocent “victim.”As part of the exhibition, the Fire Department demonstrated a vehicle “extraction” for students to observe. CSI student participants were then allowed to investigate the “damaged” cars with the “injured” lying on stretchers.

After examining the “suspects’” vehicle for clues and taking notes, the students spread out in numerous “investigation rooms” (classrooms) inside the Academy. 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.

Benedictine Academy Science Department faculty member Tom Randle coordinated the event along with Elizabeth Police Sergeant Mike Jones. Other members of the Elizabeth Police Department who assisted students with their investigations were Detectives Mickey Colon, Paul Pasternak, Yogi Barrios, Joseph Garcia, Romina Canon and Fred Beltran. The Elizabeth Fire Department response was coordinated by Captain Gary Haszko.


Making the “investigations” as realistic as possible, the Elizabeth Police and Fire Departments went out of their way to create a simulated “crime scene” for students to explore during the “CSI Science Contest” at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on Saturday, October 5. A “car crash” involving two “robbery suspects” and an innocent “victim” was staged in the parking lot of the Academy. Student “victim” Emma Moxley receives emergency medical assistance from Elizabeth Fireman David Borys. Moxley, acting the part, is a student at Benedictine Academy.


St. Genevieve School (Elizabeth) students (l-r) Paige Kelly, Andrea Sanchez and Eileen LaBrutto are pictured examining one of the cars involved for possible clues.


CSI participants listen to Elizabeth Fire Department Captain Gary Haszko as they learn more about the staged “rescue”.


Student participants were very enthused about checking for clues in the staged “crime” they investigated during the October 5 CSI event at Benedictine Academy. Pictured are (l-r) Samantha Harper, Samantha Igartua, Leilani Rosario, and Jordan Lancaster, all of Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School in Newark. Their school won the CSI event.


Student “investigators” checked clothing, hair and dirt samples in the lab during the “CSI Science Contest” held at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth on October 5. Pictured are (l-r) Cyann Braker (l) and Abygale Reyes, both from St. Joseph the Carpenter School in Roselle. Girls in grades 6-8 from four area elementary schools participated in the event, which featured teams of six students, along with a faculty advisor, performing basic crime lab investigations.


Benedictine Academy Chemistry teacher Tom Randle (left) assisted students in the lab during the CSI event. Pictured looking at hair follicles under a microscope with Randle are (center) Shiarelis Vargas and (right) Marilen Cruz. The students, who are from from Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School, were among many who were totally engrossed in examining “evidence.”


Elizabeth Police Detective Paul Pasternak “interrogated” an alleged “suspect” in the staged crime during the CSI event at Benedictine Academy on October 5. The “suspect” was played by Benedictine Academy freshman student Gianna Silva, who got raves for her acting abilities.


Students from Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School of Newark placed first in Benedictine Academy’s CSI Science Contest on October 5, 2013. Pictured are, back row, (l-r) Elizabeth Police Det. Fred Beltran; Elizabeth Police Sgt. Mike Jones, who coordinated the event; students DeJanee Carpio and Natally Gomes; Elizabeth Police Det. Yogi Barrios; Benedictine Academy Science teacher Tom Randle; Elizabeth Police Det. Mickey Colon; and Deanna Leone, Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School team moderator. Front row (l-r): Patricia Fartura, Maria L. Varisco-Rogers team moderator; and students Shiarelis Vargas, Julisa Negron and Marilen Cruz. Second place went to St. Genevieve School, Elizabeth. Third place was awarded to St. Joseph the Carpenter School in Roselle.  (Photos courtesy of Benedictine Academy)

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