Friday, June 25, 2010

Testing a Museum Program: “What’s in the Evidence?”

Because we don’t yet have a building, the Education Programs staff doesn’t get to work with the public very often. So I’m excited whenever I can get one of our programs in front of a group of living, breathing kids.

“What’s in the Evidence?” is an activity developed by our staff, including two of our past interns, to teach middle school students (ages 10-14) about forensic science and its connections to law enforcement. After testing with Memorial Fund staff and one group of students, the activity was just about ready for prime time.

An important component of any program developed by the National Law Enforcement Museum is evaluation, or looking at our programs to objectively examine whether they’re meeting the goals we created them to meet. Read Dean’s blog post to learn more about this process.

Recently, we’ve had three opportunities to test out “What’s in the Evidence” with some more students, each time working with a great group of kids who tried out the activity and helped us pilot the evaluation survey that will go with it. Every time we’ve all had a great time!

Students in Laurel, MD analyzing evidence as part of The middle schoolers solve a “vandalism” that occurred at the Visitors Center through forensic evidence collected at the scene of the “crime.” They analyze handwriting samples, run chromatography tests on ink from different pens, and examine shoe impressions (footprints) and fingerprints. Some groups have been more successful than others at fingering the culprit, but they’ve all learned about what forensic evidence can—and oftentimes cannot—tell us about crimes.

Sound like fun? This summer we’re offering the special opportunity to participate in this session free of charge. That’s right—you provide the kids, the room, and some adults to take part, and we provide the materials and an educational two-hour experience. If you’re in the D.C. area and know of a Girl or Boy Scout troop, science class, camp group, etc., who might like for us to come in and teach this activity, let me know [link to]. I’m also curious to know, if you could do this activity, what would you like to learn about in the area of forensic science?

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