Talking about forensics
In July I gave a talk on forensic evidence (and how it is used by forensic scientists and at court) at Abbotsfield School for Boys in Hillingdon, London. This was as part of two whole days of forensic science workshops organised by the school, in which students collected evidence from a mock crime scene.The younger boys (aged 12-14) enjoyed testing for fingerprints and analysing ‘blood’ and ‘drugs’ from the scene, and one was shocked to discover that all the suspects were female because “Girls don’t do drugs Miss!” The older boys (aged 14-16) were more aware of the need to keep evidence from being contaminated, but I think they enjoyed looking at photos of blood spatter as much as their younger counterparts did(!), and they made some good guesses as to how the bloodstain patterns may have been caused.
It was my first event in a school and I was quite nervous beforehand, and a bit apprehensive about how well I had targeted my talk in terms of their age and experience. I put together two slightly different talks and started each one with a short video clip to get them interested. The teacher organising the day (Carol Roderick) was really helpful and encouraging, which made my task easier! I think perhaps I pitched my KS4 talk a little too high in places and ended up skipping a bit, because it wasn't really appropriate for them - in future I will have a better idea of what questions and reactions to expect from the different age groups. I found it more challenging keeping the attention of the older boys - the younger ones were mostly interested in what a dead body smells like but at least they were asking lots of questions! It was an enjoyable couple of days and I've offered to go back to the school for another event in the autumn term.