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Early Childhood

Cops as Classroom Resources for Science Teachers

By Sean Cavanagh — October 28, 2009 1 min read

In this week’s issue, I have a story about the continued growth of forensic science courses in schools, a trend that can almost certainly be attributed partly to the “CSI effect” or the public’s fixation on cops-and-crime TV shows.

When reporting on teachers taking on a relatively new topic in science, one question I’m always curious about is where educators get their classroom materials, and ideas for lessons? The teachers I interviewed for this story tapped some interesting sources, including local police departments and forensics experts, as well as research on forensic science and the TV shows themselves—sometimes to test the veracity of an idea or concept presented on the show.

One teacher whose account I was not able to include in my story was Brian Pressley, who teaches science at Brunswick High School in Maine. Pressley is also a textbook author, and he recently wrote a new book on forensics, published by Walch Education. In addition doing a lot of research and reading about forensics, Pressley gathered ideas from his school’s security staff, who have law-enforcement training. The teacher said he knew that forensics would be a popular topic for a book after witnessing the reaction at several professional development conferences of science teachers.

“Teachers were standing in the doorway, trying to get information,” he said of one crowded session. He thought he’d have better luck at another one later in the day, but “people were out the door at that one, too,” he recalled.

About three-quarters of the members of the National Science Teachers Association who responded to a survey a few years ago said some kind of forensic science was being taught in their schools. If you’re teaching forensics, how did you develop a curriculum for your class?

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.