Tuacahn High School Students or Crime Scene Investigators?

forensics at tuacahn
Students of the Tuacahn science class involved in an outdoor blood lab. From left to right are: Dallen Reese, Mrs.(Tracy) Daniels, Ruthie Lamb, and in the background Crystal Jackson and Jasmine Valentine.

IVINS – Forensics. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, forensics is defined as anything “relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems.” It has become the subject of many popular television series in recent years such as Bones, CSI, NCIS, etc. This year it also happens to be a new course of study at Tuacahn High School.

“It’s fascinating,” said science teacher Tracy Daniels, whose class is experiencing the multifaceted realm of forensics.

While students have become intrigued by the ways forensic scientists glean insights from a pattern of spattered blood to the dried mud on the bottom of a victim’s shoe, what’s really made the class a hit has been the involvement of local law enforcement.

“The police have had a strong presence here in the class room,” Daniels said, and added that the police have made the class fun and relevant to the students. She is especially grateful to for their help in the absence of labs needed for particular class activities.

Local agencies involved with the class have included the St. George and Ivins City Police Departments, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. These visits have also included officers affiliated with the Washington County Drug Task Force and St. George K9 Unit.

“I want to give props to the cops,” Daniels said. Like the rest of her class, she is looking forward to April 22, when the police will return to Tuacahn High School and hold a half-day’s worth of forensics field instruction for the students.

Though the class has been fun and interesting for the students, Daniels said that some of her class realized that they would never want to go into forensics professionally. “It’s an intense class,” she said, noting the more grizzly side of the field that deals with the details of murder and rape on a common basis. Someone also has to have an extensive scientific background, as forensics covers more than just aspects of biology and chemistry. Scientific disciplines involving arson, ballistics, geology, and even insects can all be included in forensic studies.

“It’s a great way to roll all of the sciences into one,” Daniels said with a smile. Despite the grim nature and far-reaching training required for the field, a small handful of her students have committed themselves to the task involved in making forensics a career.

As far of the world of primetime television goes, Daniels and her class has discovered that shows like CSI and NCIS are more glamor than reality. At times they watch one of these programs in class, pausing here and there while students point out the rights and wrongs of forensic procedure conducted by the actors. Any fan of these shows who wants to keep the intrigue and mystery in them alive, best not invite one of Mrs. Daniels’s students along.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2011, all rights reserved.

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