Analyzing a New Course: Forensic Science


Haley Flynn

Firing Fiber: Three students in Mr. Sember’s Forensics class complete a lab on Fiber Analysis.

Morgan Viesselman and Tori Matula

     This past school year, students got the opportunity to take a new science course called Forensics, a half-year elective class taught by Mr. Gregory Sember and Mrs. Melissa Smith. 

     Since this course is brand new, teachers have not had as much experience as they would have hoped on the topic. However, they are making the best of it and learning along with their students.

     Sember spent a lot of his summer reading up on the basics of forensics and how the course will run. Although it was difficult for him, he understood enough to share all he learned with his third period class.

     Sember states, “Over the summer, I literally read a Forensics textbook from cover to cover. I took extensive notes, but it didn’t help much, unfortunately. Taking content knowledge and turning it into high-quality lesson plans is a huge challenge, especially when you are unfamiliar with the content.”

     As it was a bit of a struggle for him, Sember talked with some other teachers who helped create the curriculum and was able to get a better understanding. 

     “We also have to make sure each lesson is engaging. That is much harder than it sounds, especially when the curriculum is brand new,” says Sember.

     A few examples of what classes have learned so far are how to take and analyze fingerprints, collecting different types of evidence found at a crime scene, and calculating where a victim was injured from based on blood splatter. 

     Since Covid-19 restrictions are slightly more lenient this year, the forensic students have been able to work on labs in small groups of three or four. Due to the virus, this is the first time in two years that students have been able to work in labs, allowing for students to collaborate.

     Senior Kyle Pokornowski says, “We are the first class to take forensics this semester and I really enjoy it. It’s very different from the rest of the science classes I’ve taken.” Pokornowski also explains that they learn many variables that forensic scientists follow in order to discover a crime. “We’re figuring out different crimes and the factors that play into forensics, almost like the FBI,” Pokornowski states.

     Mrs. Melissa Smith also teaches the new forensics course. She and Sember have been discussing how they plan their lessons as well as how the course will go for students taking forensics later on. 

     Smith says, “Teaching is not just about knowing the content; it’s about finding materials that make the content accessible and understandable to students, so a lot of that preparation time happens during the school year; after teachers have met the students that are taking the course.”  

     For students interested in criminal justice, it would be recommended that they take forensics in the future. Even if students aren’t interested, it’s something new to try that they might end up loving.