Forensic science comes to schools
CSI fans, eat your heart out. South Australian secondary school students acted out a real-life forensic crime scene last month, thanks to the University of Adelaide.
Seven research scientists from the University, in conjunction with the Australian Society for Medical Research, visited senior students at five Adelaide high schools from 7-11 May, giving them a hands-on experience of forensic DNA techniques in a bid to encourage them to consider a career in science and medical research.
The Year 11 and 12 students delved into the world of forensic science for a day, obtaining DNA from a simulated crime scene to determine "whodunnit?"
The researchers - all University of Adelaide PhD students - are working in the scientific and medical fields. They are all passionate about science and keen to recruit new colleagues to their field.
Kylie Dunning, 27, is an ex-Golden Grove High School student who completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree majoring in genetics in 2002. She is currently undertaking her PhD in reproductive medicine at the University of Adelaide.
"The aim of this outreach program is to give students a more realistic view of science and debunk the myth of the white lab coat image and boring, mundane work. Science is a fascinating career, full of options and exciting challenges," Kylie said.
"We gave the students an introductory talk about the career path we have all chosen, the subjects we studied at university and the options available to them as a science undergraduate or PhD candidate."
A DNA fingerprinting experiment was conducted at each school, incorporating a role-play scenario in which a teacher was kidnapped and suspects narrowed down with the help of DNA.
Up to 50 students from each school took part in the forensic science experiment. The high schools included Findon, Woodville, Parafield Gardens, Paralowie and Smithfield Plains.
"This is the first year that we've offered the outreach program to metropolitan schools. The initiative has been running since 2004 and each year the response is outstanding," Kylie said.
Story by Candy Gibson