Teaching Forensic DNA analysis to 4th graders again

It’s been so long since I worked in forensic DNA, but I do keep up to date.  Occasionally I get to give lectures to schools.  I gave one lecture to a class of first year biology students at a university before, but I still prefer giving lectures to elementary school kids like I did a few years ago.  It’s so much more fun.

The forensic DNA talk I gave turned out well, and despite low lighting, overhead projector difficulties from time to time and a bad hair day.

I have some fuzzy photos from the forensics talk.  I asked my husband to be my papperazzi.  Because I knew it would make a great blog post.

This is a great DNA model (CSI DNA build kit from Planet Toys) I purchased and put together with my fourth grade daughter for her class.

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Forensic evidence bag o’tricks.

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Pretend evidence – I had a few types of mock evidence:  a blood tube, bloodstains on a mini-blanket, swabs and, hair and fiber evidence.  I’ll take pictures of them later and post them.

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I’m sure I’m saying something really cool in this photo.

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The talk went really well, I had a good time and I used great comedic timing whenever possible, ESPECIALLY when I made a mistake or I had a technical difficulty.  Works as a nice distraction and gives me breathing room.

I explained to them how DNA is tested in the forensic lab and how I help put criminals in jail and how I help other people who were wrongly convicted get out of jail with my tests.

One of the girls raised her hand and I thought it was a question.  Instead she said, “so, you’re like a hero ?!”  (I thought that was so nice).

Well, yeah, I guess I was.

The kids asked great questions and enjoyed the interactive approach – I passed around my visual aids so the kids got to see them close-up.

After my lecture, I asked them if they thought they wanted to be forensic scientists when they grew up.  I was tickled when about 8 of them (a lot of them girls) raised their hands enthusiastically.

I was really glad to hear a lot of the kids enjoyed the talk, and when I asked my daughter if I embarrassed her at all (which was a worry she had two days ago), she said “no” and she thought it was cool.

The teacher thought I did such a good job, we got to take the class rat home.
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Actually the rat had nothing to do with the lecture.  We are rat sitting over the long winter break weekend.  They are doing an experiment with two rats at school.

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