Sharyland Independent School District students investigated a mock crime scene during a Summer Gifted Academy this week for students in the gifted and talented programs at their schools. Students also learned about aerodynamics, architecture and experimented with bubbles. The purpose of the camp was to get students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Gail Roman, a teacher that designed the program this year, said it was little difficult and different, letting the students loose a bit and letting them make a bit of a mess on Tuesday when her students played with bubbles.
In previous years, the district had people from out of the district come in and direct the program. This year, she coordinated the program, receiving help from a couple of other teachers. She said it was more like what she was to from when she taught in Ohio.
Roman worked with incoming fourth and fifth graders, while Daisy Gutierrez worked with incoming sixth graders. The fourth and fifth graders worked on aerodynamics, bubbles, math grids and architecture. The sixth graders concentrated on a crime scene, but also worked on logic puzzles and math games.
Gutierrez said she wanted her students to think for themselves. The entire setup was very different from the normal classroom setting where everything is given to the students. In the crime scene, or mystery festival, the students had to lead their own learning, ask questions and do a lot of problem solving. It included a lot of hands-on projects where the students had to investigate, test evidence and perform experiments.
The sixth graders were separated into eight groups. The crime scene was separated into eight quadrants, and each group was to study their quadrant, take notes and draw it out. This was going to be used during the rest of the week because the crime scene was to be torn down by the end of the day.
Everything had to be considered, said Gutierrez. The footprints, position of body, hair on a comb left at the scene, the color of the soda in two different cups, pieces of string left behind, a brown stain and even the smell of cologne/perfume that was on a towel that had been thrown into a trash can. The scenario, suspects and alibis were given after the students drew their areas out.
The students were to observe the scene and then think about who might have been the murderer.
Through observing, comparing, evaluating, distinguishing evidence, figuring out what evidence was pertinent, problem solving, drawing conclusions, logical thinking and debating, students learned about forensic science, fingerprints, footprints, chromatography, acids, bases, pH testing, powder testing, thread comparison testing and DNA.
Two students participating in the crime scene investigation plan on going into law enforcement and felt they benefitted from the activity.
Norberto Manzanares, a sixth grader from Ruben Hinojosa Elementary, said he wants to be a police officer when he gets older. He said the skills he is learning right now might be applied in his future job.
Manzanares said he liked that they are learning to use their brain, actually think, use logic and be a detective of sorts.
Miranda Neagle, a sixth grader from Martinez Elementary, also enjoyed the crime scene investigation. She said she learned how to uncover the fingerprints with super glue and think logically. The project is teaching her forensics, she said. Neagle said she wants to work with crime and forensics when she grows up so she is getting a small taste of what that job would be like.
Students working with the paper airplanes on Monday were paired in twos and competed against other teams. The idea was to try to get a paper airplane through a hoop and land on a target. Each team member had an airplane. Distance from the target would be measured to see who scored the lowest.
By studying whose planes were closest to the targets, the students looked at designs and how that may have contributed to their flight success.
“This is so fun! We are getting to make paper airplanes and flying them without getting in trouble,” said Kian Ruiz, a student from O. Garza Elementary, after participating in a paper airplane project.
Gutierrez said it was very important that the students were not just sitting at a desk and listening to the teacher tell them, she wanted them to leave feeling they had taught themselves to learn something.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.