Forensic Students Investigate ‘Whodunnit’

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Students enrolled in the forensics elective class at Elwood-John H. Glenn High School have immersed themselves into an interactive, hands-on ‘whodunnit’ case study. Under the guidance of teacher Chris Lafferty, students are involved in a critical thinking investigation centered on the old case of D.B. Cooper, a man who hijacked a plan in the early 1970s, collected a ransom and then parachuted to an unknown fate.

In preparation for the lesson, Mr. Lafferty partially buried a fake skeleton (D.B. Cooper) in the school’s courtyard. Without knowledge of who the skeleton was, the students were called to the “crime scene” and provided with some basic facts about the scene. Much like real forensic scientists would do, the students first drew a map of the area and sketched the skeleton in preparation for their investigation.
From now until the end of the school year, Mr. Lafferty will unveil more evidence for students to analyze in their case study. Ultimately, the goal is to figure out who committed the crime based on a list of suspects.

“The students are applying methods of critical thinking based on evidence they have been provided with to put this crime scene together,” said Mr. Lafferty. “This is as close as the students can get to a real-life situation on a high school level.”

Student Matthew Spalding said, “Being able to step out of the classroom for a hands-on activity, rather than just seeing the lesson on paper, really makes the lab come alive.”