By: Ruthie Saylor
Forensics class is a relatively new class offered at Tussey Mountain. The class originated two years ago and was started with Brittany Buterbaugh and Sarah Elder. They both expressed interest in forensic science and decided to start the class. Now the class is run solely by Elder in her room. She is hoping to have help again next year.
The units of the elective include hair analysis, fiber analysis, forensic botany, fingerprint analysis, blood typing, blood spatter, toxicology, forensic anthropology, and forensic entomology. Elder says, “I like that it pulls from a whole bunch of different specialties … I’ve learned so much because it’s really seven or eight of twelve different specialties.” Elder says her favorite units are the fiber, hair, and the entomology (bug) units. Occasionally they bring in people to help with the class. They have had Officer Buseck to help with their class with toxicology in regards to drugs and fingerprint analysis.
One of the things that interests students are the labs that Elder sets up. The process takes about four hours and two days for Elder to set up. Elder tries to make sure that there is a mystery involved. Elders have to make sure that it doesn’t rain during most of her labs so she must watch the weather. For some of the labs, the class has to look at mud so rain is required. A lot of what the class does is based around the weather. They have completed the evidence collection lab where they learn to bag evidence and put them in what’s called a bindle. Deven Member-Meneh says, “going out and actually collecting evidence was pretty cool.” They also did Locard’s Principle which is the idea that when people touch, evidence is exchanged. They sent students to different areas in the school where they rubbed a sock on the ground and students had to figure out where the “victim’s sock” was.
If she had more time in her schedule she would teach more than just seniors, but she is still wary about teaching younger students because of the feelings involved with the class. You have to be mature to be in a class dealing with these certain topics. Elder says, “It drags up a lot of feelings for a lot of people. Most people have had some experience in their family or with their friends with one of these [crimes]. … It’s fascinating, but you can’t forget we’re talking about crimes.” Also students can’t go out of the class and talk about the hard topics that they deal with, so students must be mature. Parents must sign wavers saying that they understand what their children will be learning because the topics are so heavy. All the videos they watch in the class are things that are played on TV, but they can still be sad things to watch.
All in all, forensics can be a great class to take if you’re interested. Braelynn Williams says “[I just enjoy] the people you work with, and the different stuff you learn.”