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Mrs. Wyatt’s class holds up their blood samples from the lab.

Freshmen forensics specialists

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Mrs. Wyatt’s Biology class has added a new and engaging twist to the Biology curriculum: an investigative PLTW forensics lab to solve a murder mystery.

Students complete various tasks that are aimed at identifying the suspect in a murder mystery case. They must analyze the way in which blood droplets change in size when dropped from various heights in order to draw conclusions about the crime scene.

During this lab, students work mostly as individuals or in small groups with little guidance. This format encourages student ingenuity and problem-solving skills.

“In a lab like this, there is no set step-by-step procedure for the students to follow. They start off with materials to use and a goal, and they must design their own experiment. By doing labs like this students are able to analyze the problem critically and design a way to solve it using scientific knowledge and creativity,” said Wyatt.

Students reported specifically that this lab helped them to learn various ways of organizing and observing data. In addition to that, the student response to the lab has been very positive.

¨[Mrs. Wyatt] did an excellent job. We learned how to organize [information] in different ways,” Saul Villanueva, freshman, said. “The hardest challenge was finding a probable cause [of death]. At first we thought it was accidental, but [Mrs. Wyatt] told us that it wasn’t based on the information we had.”

The Blood Splatter lab that Wyatt’s class is doing stems from the Principles of Biomedical Science division of  Project Lead the Way, an organization that provides templates for teachers to use in the classroom. These templates include resources for biomedical science, coding, and engineering, for example.

As a supplement to a lab designed to take place in the real world, Wyatt has had some outside input from a knowledgeable source, the LPHS SRO Officer McCoy.

“[He] has provided a lot of valuable insight into forensics, crime scene investigation, and crime scene search methods. It has been wonderful to have his real-world experience as a valuable resource for students in the class,” said Wyatt.

Wyatt plans to add more PLTW labs in the future if student response continues to be positive, which appears to be the trend.

“There really hasn’t been a part of the lab that I didn’t enjoy…” Ethan Couvillion, freshman, said.

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