Throughout the year we invite local primary school pupils into Our Lady’s to solve a crime! Don’t worry – the crime scenes aren’t real, but there is nothing fake about the work that takes place to solve the mystery. Our SPI Days are increasingly popular and it is fantastic to be able to offer so many children the opportunity to take a ‘hand-on’ approach to science.
Created by experienced forensic scientists Adam and Emma McCarthy, SPI Club (Science, Participation, Inspiration) provides a quality science learning opportunity in an extremely engaging way. By exploring some of the fundamental aspects of crime scene investigation and forensic science, children get the chance to examine fingerprints, footwear mark impressions and learn about document analysis, forensic anthropology, DNA profiling and much more. Interactive sessions are investigation-led providing a fascinating insight into the real work of crime scene investigators (CSIs) and forensic scientists.
Putting forensic science into practise, the students put on white lab coats and protective eye goggles to examine the evidence. They are encouraged to work in teams to solve a ‘crime’ using a high-quality scientific approach with access to scientific equipment.
Emma McCarthy and Nicola Sharples who run SPI Club explain to the children that forensic science is all about finding things you can’t see and show them ways in which they can uncover evidence. Sessions include the chance to examine soil samples, pattern repetitions made from footprints and ink samples. Pupils are encouraged to keep a record of their findings so they identify the culprit.
Emma and Nicola also run a range of science workshops for school children, including electricity workshops. As Nicola explains:
“Having worked as a secondary Science teacher I believe the best way to promote students’ interest in science and scientific careers is through them carrying out investigations and discovering answers for themselves. I love seeing their confidence in practical work grow and how much they develop their critical thinking skills over the course of the day.”