The Out4STEM and Teva Interns Become Crime Scene Investigators

Sheets of fingerprints collected at the Arcadia Crime Scene House are spread across a table.

During these next two months, students in our various youth programs are active in both the classroom, in the laboratory, and in the community. Recently, students from the Out4STEM Internship program journeyed to Arcadia University to visit the Arcadia Crime Scene House. Opened in 2015 as part of Arcadia’s Forensic Science Program, the Crime Scene House provides simulations of crime scenes for students to home their observation skills. Together, the interns examined a simulated crime scene and gathered evidence, such as fingerprints, blood spatter, and shoe prints.

Students from the Center for Education's youth programs gather evidence from a human dummy simulating a victim at the Arcadia Crime Scene House

Meanwhile, students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program conducted their own crime scene investigation here at the College of Physicians. Under the guidance of Gladys “GG” Seibert, an expert in crime scene analysis, the interns examined a mock crime scene. Braving the summer heat, they meticulously gathered evidence. Endowed with their newfound investigatory experience, they will take part in other lessons in processing that information. Along the way, they will also investigate the societal impact of violent crime and mechanisms for addressing and coping with violence.

Students in the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program investigate a mock crime scene at the loading dock behind the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

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Games of Forensics: The Karabots Fellows Show Off Their Prototypes

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate a card-based roleplaying game on forensics to two visitors to the Mütter Museum

Throughout the school year, the Karabots Junior Fellows have learned about the basic principles of game design. They have met with game developers, used games to learn about STEM concepts, playtested medically-themed games in class, and done some game development work of their own. All the while, they have learned about a variety of fields related to forensic science.

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrate a game on forensics they designed to visitors to the Mütter Museum

Beginning in January, instructor Kevin Impellizeri broke them into five teams and issued a challenge: work together to develop a prototype for a game themed around forensic science. It could be any aspect of the field and they could develop a game in any style they wished (such as roleplaying-based, board-based, or card-based). Throughout the semester, they devoted periods in class to work out a concept, develop a prototype and put it to the test, making alterations as they saw fit. This past Saturday they finally unveiled their finished products.

A student in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program demonstrates a board game on forensics to two visitors to the Mütter Museum

The best test of a game’s success is seeing how it plays; therefore, we opened the Koop classroom and let visitors to the Mütter Museum come in and try them out. Visitors met with each team of Fellows, who explained the rules and helped them play through their games. Several of the Fellows even created and carried signs in the Museum lobby to entice visitors to play their games!

Several of the Karabots Junior Fellows entice visitors to the Müttre Museum to try their games, holding a sign saying "Try Mütter's New Games"

The Karabots Junior Fellows Become Eyewitnesses

In their continued quest to learn all there is to know about forensic science, the Karabots Junior Fellows met with Robert Hicks, Director of the Mütter Museum & the Historical Medical Library & William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (Dr. Hicks frequently appears in informative videos on the Mütter Museum’s YouTube channel and recently was an expert witness in the comedy podcast Judge John Hodgman). One of many facets of a diverse career, Dr. Hicks once served as a police officer and FBI-trained investigator. During his recent session with the Fellows, he walked through the proper procedures for securing a crime scene and interviewing witnesses…

…and that’s when tragedy struck!

A hitherto unknown assailant burst into the Koop classroom to surprise of everyone present. Brandishing a knife and shouting accusations of a torrid affair between her husband and Dr. Hicks, she lunged at our speaker, rained down several blows, and stole away as quickly and as mysteriously as she had arrived. The whole affair lasted roughly seven seconds.

Mütter Museum director Robert Hicks and Curator Anna Dhody stage a mock assault to teach the Karabots Junior Fellows the role of eyewitnesses in forensic investigation

Disclaimer: Dramatization (no one actually got hurt)

Fortunately, the assailant’s blows failed to stifle the indefatigable Robert Hicks, who arose from the ground unharmed in spite of the violent attack on his person. Regaining his composure, he instructed the surprised Fellows, to write down what they saw in an attempt to parse out what happened. Students in turn acted as both eyewitnesses and investigators as they examined the events of the crime, comparing their testimonies to ascertain the order of events, what was said between the attacker and Dr. Hicks, and a physical description of the would-be assassin. Finally, Dr. Hicks had the attacker, revealed to be Mütter Museum curator Anna Dhody, re-enter the room to compare her actual appearance with the description the students provided (it was fairly close).

Robert Hicks compares the Fellows eyewitness description of Anna Dhody, his erstwhile assailant

The students learned three valuable lessons that day: the challenges facing police investigators recreating a crime scene, the subjectivity of eyewitness testimony, and never, ever mess with Anna!

The Karabots Junior Fellows Ask Questions About Justice and Prisons

Daytime facade of Eastern State Penitentiary

Image Source: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

As part of their year-long focus on forensic science, the Karabots Junior Fellows have been exposed to issues related to the larger criminal justice system, of which forensics comprises a small part. This week the Fellows learned about American prisons and the complex political issue that is mass incarceration. On Saturday, May 21, they along with students from the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program will be making a visit to Eastern State Penitentiary to view the historic site and its new exhibit on the impact of prisons in America.

Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 as an ambitious new approach to criminal justice. The prison operated on the idea of rehabilitating inmates to inspire “penitence,” or deep regret (hence the word “penitentiary”, of which ESP was the first). While at Eastern State, they will take a tour of the building’s history, explore the cellblocks, and learn about the role prisons play in America today.

Lauren Zalut, Director of Education at Eastern State Penitentiary, works with the Karabots Junior Fellows to find a definition of "justice"

In preparation for their visit to the Penitentiary, the Karabots Junior Fellows met with Lauren Zalut, Director of Education and Tour Programs for Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. In keeping with the site’s focus on discussion-based programming, Lauren offered a deceptively simple question for the Fellows to ponder: “What is justice?” The Fellows went around the room, with each offering their own definition and addressing topics such as fairness, civil rights, retribution, and social injustice.

One of the Karabots Junior Fellows shares his opinion of justice and prisons

Lauren then had the Fellows divide into pairs and share with each other the first time they had ever encountered injustice. Each student then shared personal stories of their encounters with injustice, from violence, to discrimination, to racial profiling. In doing so, Lauren challenged the Fellows to consider the economic, social, political, and racial factors that have contributed to the United States having the world’s largest prison population (the US currently has roughly 2.2 million people in prison and houses roughly 25% of the world’s prisoners). Finally, she had them write on a note card one subject they hope to learn more about during their visit. We will see how many new facts about prisons and the criminal justice system they learn when they visit this weekend.

The Karabots Junior Fellows examine cards on which they have written what they want to learn during their upcoming trip to Eastern State Penitentiary

The Karabots Junior Fellows Foil “Kidnapping” Plot

A "ransom note" for the Karabots Junior Fellows' lesson on handwriting analysis

In their semester-long quest to learn all there is to know about forensic science, the Karabots Junior Fellows learned about how forensic scientists examine documents. Questioned Document Examination(QDE) is the name given to any document analysis involved in criminal cases, be they ransom letters, counterfeit bills or checks, or historical documents of questionable authenticity. It has a variety of applications in a wide array of cases, including identifying forged, illegally altered, or counterfeited documents to assisting murder and kidnapping cases, to investigating acts of terrorism. The Fellows examined just a few of the techniques and applications (you can learn more about QDE here).

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program examine a questioned document during a lesson on handwriting analysis

As luck would turn out, knowledge of QDE immediately came in handy. During class, they received word that Bucky, the classroom’s skeleton, had been kidnapped by some unknown culprit. The only clue we had as to the kidnapper’s identity was a handwritten ransom note.  Using their newly-acquired skills in handwriting analysis, the Fellows broke into groups and compared the ransom note to handwriting samples from several key suspects. In doing so, they were able to identify the perpetrator of this dastardly plot!

Students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program examine a questioned document during a lesson on handwriting analysis

 

Philly Youth Learn the Impact of Gun Violence

Students from the Karabots Junior Fellows and Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Programs pose with ballistics expert Mark Williford

One small piece of metal can change a person’s life forever. On Saturday, the Teva Interns and Karabots Junior Fellows came together to address issues in forensics, ballistics, and gun violence. Together they met with Mark Williford, a forensic ballistics expert and formerly an officer in the Philadelphia Police Department. Williford shared his experience as a police officer and crime investigator, as well as accounts from growing up in Philadelphia and his firsthand encounters with violence. More than just addressing the science of ballistics, Williford challenged the students to critically examine the impact of gun violence on individuals and communities.

Ballistics expert mark Williford talks to the Teva Interns and Karabots Junior Fellows

CEPI Now Accepting Applications for the 2016/2017 TEVA Internship Program!

ATTENTION PHILADELPHIA 10th and 11th GRADERS:

Is violence a problem in your community? Do you want to learn more about the causes, effects and possible solutions?
• Do you want to spend time working with like-minded, motivated students from across the City?
• Are you interested in science, health, and technology fields like forensics, medicine, and physical therapy?

If you answered YES to these questions, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s 2016 TEVA Pharmaceuticals Internship could be for you!

Students in the Teva Program pose with Thierry and Florence Momplaisir

We are recruiting and selecting 16 Philadelphia high school students to be TEVA Interns. These interns will explore the impact of violence on themselves and their communities while building skills and improving their understanding of science and technology.

Our program will focus on the following areas:

• Learning and applying forensic techniques such as crime scene investigation, fingerprinting, and ballistics.
• Understanding the health system’s response to individuals with traumatic gunshot wounds, including emergency room procedures, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
• Understanding the body’s physiological response to stress and stress relief techniques
• Learning to talk, heal, and build community with your peers

Teva interns share their thoughts on racism at the Racism is a Sickness installation

Students will work closely with College staff, the collections of the College’s Mütter Museum, and experts from a variety of fields and institutions.

To apply for the Program, download an application HERE. All applicants must secure a letter of recommendation from an academic, volunteer, or community adviser, permission from their parent/guardian, and complete an essay. Applications must be postmarked by MAY 2, 2016!

To learn more about the program, check out the TEVA Internship Program website. For information about past activities and events related to the TEVA Internship Program check out our Archive.