Surry Community College was the site of a “mysterious disappearance” where the forensic scientists were seventh grade students from Central Middle School, Meadowview Middle School, Pilot Mountain Middle School, and J. Sam Gentry Middle School.
The event, on December 9, was sponsored by the BioNetwork of the North Carolina Community College System, an organization that partnered with Surry Community College’s Science Division to host and offer class instruction. BioNetwork is on a mission to develop the STEM pipeline for biotechnology, manufacturing, and life science industry in North Carolina. The STEM Outreach Team provides support to individual community colleges for hosting engaging, hands-on, and curriculum-aligned activities and events for all ages. More information is available on www.ncbionetwork.org/.
The event was to promote science/STEM, biotechnology opportunities, the application of science through forensics, as well as Surry Community College programming including science classes and forensics. Career & College Promise opportunities and future careers were also highlighted. High school juniors and seniors may take many classes at SCC without any tuition cost and receive high school and college credit simultaneously. The activities also aligned with the “Project Lead the Way,” a STEM initiative with which Surry County Schools is involved.
The middle schoolers were presented with a mysterious disappearance case, and then were divided into groups where they did activities to help solve the mystery. Students conducted black dye electrophoresis to analyze dye extracted from various dark fibers. They conducted a chemical analysis of white powder to understand how chemical and physical properties can be used in a laboratory to confirm the identify of a substance.
Students did blood typing to learn how this process can be used to exclude individuals from a suspect list. Students also did a lab featuring ink chromatography and tread analysis where they learned how mixtures can be separated by physical means using chromatography techniques. Students also investigated footprints of a shoe to learn clues about the killer.
SCC faculty and staff participating in the event were Instructional Assistant Erica Issacs, Biology Instructor Cathy Wheeler, Biology Instructor Chelsea Shields, Chemistry Instructor Robin Narehood, Biology Instructor Amanda Killon-Atwood, Biology Instructor Dr. Maria Kriska, Biology Instructor Grayson Patton along with Science Division Chair Jeff Jones.
“We look forward to working with our local schools and BioNetwork again on future projects and plan on having a North Carolina Science Festival event in April,” said Jones.
Surry Community College offers a certificate, diploma, and degree in Criminal Justice Technology with a Forensic Science Concentration at the Center for Public Safety in Mount Airy. To learn more, contact Denise Sizemore, Lead Instructor of Criminal Justice, at (336) 386-3474 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.surry.edu.