Dennis Oliver, our Head of Science, brings his acclaimed summer program to Chatham Hall this summer. Make use of the school's state of the art facilities while integrating the areas of science, mathematics, and computer technology into a real-life experience where students assume the roles of forensic investigators as they solve a mock crime.
The Academic Program
This summer’s program entitled “Who Dunnit?” integrates the areas of biology, chemistry and mathematics. Students assume the role of crime scene investigators in order to solve a mock crime. The schedule for each day will include three 90 minute class periods, known as investigation periods. In two of the three investigation periods, students design and perform experiments to test the evidence collected at the” crime scene”.
By learning to classify fingerprints, they gain an appreciation for probability and statistics, as they relate fingerprint types to the general population. Fundamental differences between human and animal hair are examined under the microscope and calculations of a medullary index show distinctions between hair samples. Students learn about atomic structure of basic elements, as they perform flame tests on various stains collected from the crime scene. By studying blood typing (artificial blood only) and DNA structures, students are introduced to genetics and complex biological principles. The extraction of DNA from strawberries emphasizes the importance of this molecule.
Applications of mathematics are stressed in the third investigation period. Data collection and the application of the principles of statistics and probability allow students to make essential predictions which help in the resolution of the “crime”. Scale and proportions are also emphasized as students draw scale models of the crime scene. The scientific processes and mathematical analyses learned in these three investigation periods enable students to solve the crime by the end of the program. The Chatham Hall Summer Investigators is an enrichment program. While the curriculum has a non-traditional, interdisciplinary format that demonstrates the powerful connections that exist between mathematics and science, it is not remedial in these areas.
Although all classes cover the same topics, the degree of difficulty at which these topics are taught varies, depending upon the grade level and mathematics background of the students within the section. The summer investigators do not provide academic credit; there is no formal testing or grades. Teachers will write “comments” for each student on a report card at the end of the program.