Gifted Middle and High School Students Experience CSI Firsthand at Ole Miss

A group of 38 students spent a week of their summer at the University of Mississippi learning about crime scene investigation. The class consisted of gifted students in grades 7th through 12th from states around the country, including Ohio, California, Missouri and Mississippi.

Murrell Godfrey, director of the UM forensic chemistry program, led the week-long camp along with his students. Campers were given the opportunity to learn how crime scenes are processed and evidence is analyzed through hands-on activities. “During the week, students learned the importance of the correct chain of custody procedures when handling evidence that they collect at the crime scene,” said Godfrey.

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Activities included were DNA, bullet and drug analysis, gunshot residue and fingerprinting. A mock crime scene included bullets, blood spatters and even a dead body, all of which the students used to sharpen their detective skills. Students formed smaller task force groups to collect data and run analyses in the university’s research labs. The camp also allowed students to tour the UM medicinal plant gardens.

The week wrapped up with a mock trial that was held in a mock court room at the School of Law. Students were tested on the knowledge acquired throughout the week by posing as prosecutors, witnesses, suspects and attorneys.

This is the second time the CSI summer camp has been offered at University of Mississippi. In 2015 the campus hosted 30 students from 15 states. Godfrey said the goal of the camps is to encourage gifted students to choose a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) major in college. The UM faculty hopes that by giving students the opportunity to use the laboratory equipment, they will develop an interest in forensic chemistry and possibly eventually attend the university.

The campers agreed that it was a remarkable experience which taught them the realty of crime scene investigation.