Students from Heart of Appalachia Talent Search Program (HATS) take part in crime scene investigation event

Forensic science graduate students and faculty hosted a crime scene investigation event for middle school students from the Heart of Appalachia Talent Search Program today at Marshall University’s Crime Scene House.

About 38 middle school students from Mason and Wayne counties attended the “CSI Huntington” event.

Students became crime scene investigators for a day to solve a mock murder case where they learned about forensic science investigative techniques.

Evidence from the mock crime scene was placed throughout the house where students received lectures and demonstrations as well as participated in hands-on activities to solve the case.

Topics included DNA analysis, latent print identification, drug testing, blood spatter analysis, toolmark examination, crime scene investigation, questioned documents and AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System software) as well as digital forensics examination.

Angela Holley, director of Marshall’s Heart of Appalachia Talent Search program, said the program is part of the Federal TRiO Programs, one of several federally funded programs to help students complete high school and enter and complete postsecondary education.

“The mission of the Heart of Appalachia Talent Search program is to help students early on get exposure to careers that can help them map out their future,” she said.

Holley said she would recommend CSI Huntington to other student organizations.

Dr. Pamela Staton, professor of forensic science in the graduate program, is the faculty adviser for the “CSI Huntington” events. “CSI Huntington is a forensic science program that seeks to expose students and teachers to various career opportunities especially in the areas of science, technology and mathematics, which includes forensic science,” she said.

The event was presented by Marshall University Forensic Identification Association (MUFIA), a Marshall University student organization composed of forensic science graduate students in the nationally recognized master’s degree program. Proceeds from the outreach activity will go toward professional travel to national meetings such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Teachers or representatives of student organizations who are interested in scheduling a “CSI Huntington” workshop should contact Staton for more information at 304-634-5263. Workshops also are available to other groups upon request.


Photo: Middle school students from Mason and Wayne counties participating in the Heart of Appalachia Talent Search Program learn about forensic science investigative techniques while examining a mock crime scene guided by Marshall’s Forensic Science Graduate Program students and faculty at its crime scene house.