Students delve into forensics

NORTHROP – Nearly 400 forensic scientists descended on Northrop on Wednesday morning, investigating the Case of the Missing Fizz.

Fingerprint, DNA and handwriting analysis; crime scene investigation; chromatography; and tracking clues to the culprit were all organized by the Science Museum of Minnesota for students from area parochial schools.

The program was held at Martin Luther High School. It is the second year the school has hosted a Science Museum event for elementary students.

“A lot of kids [who] go to these small schools don’t get opportunities like this,” said Marge Thiesse, director of development at Martin Luther. “We are a school of opportunity.”

Students in grades 1-6 were presented a scenario in which a food scientist’s recipe for a new type of cola is stolen. A list of suspects was presented, along with evidence and a crime-solving journal to help students through the process.

Each grade level was tasked with figuring out a piece of the puzzle before students were brought together to figure out who fit the evidence.

The Science Museum provided staff to guide students through the processes, including separating DNA strand from a banana, identifying identical powders based on their characteristics and comparing handwriting from several samples “discovered at the scene.”

Students in grades 7-9 also had a crime to solve, but it was more serious. Led by Martin Luther staff and using curriculum purchased by the school, these students were asked to solve a murder through identifying poisons; and conducting shoe print, blood, fingerprint and fiber analysis.

While the focus of the day was exploring and using science, Martin Luther Principal Paul Steinhaus talked to students about the importance of investigating information presented to them in the way Luke, the author the gospel of Luke, interviewed witnesses and gathered the evidence presented in his book.

Jen Fogelson, science teacher at St. John Vianney, said concepts explored at the event are not what are typically covered in class, although her students do look into some aspects of DNA and genetics.

“It is mostly just fun for them,” she said.

That is exactly what Martin Luther High School was hoping.

“We want people to look at MLHS as a great place for kids to do new and exciting things,” Thiesse said.