Hazelwood Central H.S. Biomedical Science Students Act As Crime Scene Investigators

Freshmen Devyn Torbert, in the white labcoat, and Chelsea Elliott react to a mock crime scene in a supply closet at Hazelwood Central High School.

A supply closet marked with pretend yellow crime scene tape across its doorway became the focus for students in Bret Barron’s biomedical science class at Hazelwood Central High School.

In the closet, Anna Garcia lay face down on the floor near an upended table. Black-on-yellow number tags marked a variety of clues scattered around the closet. Working in pairs wearing lab coats, latex gloves and safety goggles, students walked across the hall from Barron’s class to the closet.

“This is so cool!” said freshman Chelsea Elliott, as she and classmate Devyn Torbert took their turn surveying the scene, armed with notebooks and pencils.

“Oh! I know why she died. There’s a pill over here. She overdosed!” said Torbert.

Following instructions, students observed the scene, took notes, made sketches of what they saw and processed the scene to solve the mystery. Barron reminded them to only step into the closet if necessary and to take care where they stepped. Otherwise they could contaminate the scene, even though Garcia was a mannequin.

“This is the introductory unit of the class in biomedical science,” said Barron. “Anna Garcia is an employee who suffered from diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, and kidney stones. She died a mystery death. What the students will learn later during the final autopsy is that Anna Garcia died of natural causes.”

Barron’s biomedical science class is one component of Project Lead the Way (PLTW), a dynamic high school and middle school program that gives students real-world learning and hands-on experiences in engineering, biomechanics, aeronautics, biomedical sciences and other applied math and science arenas. HSD high school classes offered include introduction to engineering design or biomedical sciences.

For middle school students, there is the Gateway to Technology (GTT) program. GTT’s focus is on showing, not telling, students how to use engineering to solve everyday problems. Middle school students can enroll in courses such as design and modeling, automation and robotics and flight and space.

All three Hazelwood high schools are certified PLTW schools and offer engineering and biomedical science classes under the PLTW umbrella. In addition, all six HSD middle schools are certified PLTW schools and offer GTT classes.

Students, parents and others who are interested in PLTW can learn more about it at the District’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Extravaganza, October 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Hazelwood Central High School.


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