Students Investigate ‘Crime Scene’ at ECBC
Students participating in Cecil County’s STEM summer camp extract DNA from strawberries with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center research microbiologist Lauren McNew at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Cecil County students are bringing “CSI: Edgewood” to life.

Sixteen students from the county’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Academy experienced the latest advances in biology and chemistry June 21, getting a hands-on lesson in forensics at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

“Words can’t really describe all the amazing things we’ve seen [at ECBC],” Rising Sun student Josh Wheeler said. “This experience was very thought-inducing, and we were able to experience technologies that I have not seen anywhere else.”

Students performed a fictional forensics investigation based on the lessons they learned at ECBC. They were told that an unknown compound was discovered in Edgewood.

ECBC scientists shared how their technical expertise is vital when collecting crucial evidence to solve a crime.

Students explored how Robot Recon, a combination of robotics and electronic detectors, can lower the risk to Soldiers and emergency responders when rendering an area safe. Electrical engineer Mark Colgan showed them how to manipulate the R2.

“During a forensics investigation, it can provide accurate information about the nature and type of hazard to ensure first responders wear appropriate equipment when entering potentially contaminated space,” said Colgan, who helped develop the R2.

Engineering technicians Ryan Gilley and Samuel Silva demonstrated how reverse engineering and 3D laser scanning create digital models of anything from skeletal remains to tire tracks in computer-aided design.

“The data we can collect with 3D laser scanning allows us to rebuild crime scenes and retrace death causes,” Gilley said.

Research microbiologist Lauren McNew showed students how to extract DNA from strawberries.

“Due to strawberries exhibiting many more DNA copies than humans, their genetic information becomes visible without any special instrumentation,” McNew said. “In criminal cases, samples of crime scene evidence are usually analyzed for the presence of a set of specific DNA markers.”

Page last updated Wed June 29th, 2011 at 00:00