Three-Week Summer Science Program
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“Incredibly Popular” – WCVB Boston, Channel 5 News, Education Matters
“Wildly popular… Students are hooked” – WHDH Boston, Channel 7 News, Urban Landscape
Hands-on, non-stop activities in this program including fingerprint casting, footprint molding and analysis, blood spatter examination using projectile physics, and much more. Forensics is an active and high energy program. Students have the unique opportunity to investigate mock crime scenes, conduct mock autopsies, and even analyze insect activity on specimens that have been left outside. Rich Fox has been featured on NPR’s The Poisoner’s Handbook, identified remains at the World Trade Center, and teaches classes that have waitlisted up to a hundred students. Last year, students visited the bomb squad at Logan International Airport, where they learned about the process of identifying suspicious packages, the training of bomb sniffing dogs, and cases in which explosives have had to be diffused.
Residential students at this site must be rising tenth graders or above. Rising ninth graders may be considered for our residential or day program on a case by case basis.
This is a competitive admissions summer research program designed for teens.
In Forensic Science, students will explore how the latest DNA and genetic testing and technologies can be used by law enforcement and medical examiners to identify the perpetrator of a crime, how dentists can use dental records to identify unknown murder victims, and how bite marks can be used to identify the perpetrator. Cell biology, projectile physics surrounding blood splatter evidence, and anatomy all come into play in investigating crime scene evidence. Students are provided field notebooks at the beginning of the program, which they can use to record their research and take notes on detective work.
Most days begin with studies of Forensic Files–a dramatic video series on real-life crimes solved with forensic sciences. These videos help the students to become engaged in the topic and often set the mood for the day as well as introduce the day’s focus.
One of the most engaging projects involves observing a rotting piece of meat. Rich Fox leaves a piece of meat in a nearby field overnight. The students then observe at different times over the next few days which insects are attracted to it or even have laid their eggs inside! This experiment replicates a technique used by forensic scientists to identify how long a body has been dead and decaying.
In addition to examining a large variety of physical evidence, students performed a mock autopsy using fetal pig specimens. Students use the same incisions a forensic pathologist or medical examiner uses to conduct an autopsy on a human subject. Upon completion of the autopsy, students place all organs and connective tissue back into the body cavity and suture the Y incision closed using a curved suture needle and thread—much as a forensic pathologist would close a human subject.
Students also created facial reconstructions by hand, using oil based clay and in depth tissue measurements provided by forensic anthropologists. These facial reconstructions are often used to identify missing persons and victims in cold cases.
Other experiments include blood typing, hair follicle analysis, finger and thumb impressions, and estimating a person’s height based on their footprint and stride. These hands-on experiments give students a wide introduction to the many techniques utilized by forensic scientists.
Dr. Fox received forensic training at some of the finest scientific facilities in the country including; the Human Genome Project, The Human Remains I.D Lab, Oak Ridge National Labs, and The McCrone School of Microscopy. He has assisted with identification of remains from mass graves in Bosnia Herzegovina as part of a United Nations team. Fox is a member of the International Association for Forensic Identification. He has been selected for the Society for Science and the Public Fellows Program. Mr. Fox’s teaching assignments have included secondary schools in Las Vegas and Boston, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gifted Youth, and Tufts University. Rich was a 2012 Honoree of the Massachusetts Society for Biomedical Research.
‘Dr. Fox is an amazing teacher. He’s hands-on and makes labs enjoyable. He is also well-rounded and uses his background knowledge in very different fields that he’s been in and uses that to make learning enjoyable. He also has a great sense of humor and has a fun personality. He is also very caring and fair.’
‘We learned about the processes used in forensic investigations. I found the material really interesting and Mr. Fox was a good teacher. He had the perfect balance between hands on work and notes to keep us learning.’
‘I loved it so much. My favorite unit was the blood spatter analysis and the pig autopsy. Mr. Fox was very knowledgeable and experienced! He was such a good teacher.’
‘I personally loved the class there was never a moment when I was bored or uninterested. Dr. Fox does a phenomenal job of combining information and hands-on activities that is very easy to follow and entertaining for all. Plus he is very funny and nice! Overall, I really liked everything about the class, the people and am leaving with lots of new knowledge and great memories!’
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