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.


Forensic evidence bag o’tricks.


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.


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


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.

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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