Let’s talk kits! As we dive into hands-on learning opportunities and options, it allows me the chance to introduce one of the many kits offered by Crosscutting Concepts. But before I do so, I want to touch on the overall goal that each product provides. These kits provide a multi-channel way of thinking for students and assists in enhancing student involvement throughout the classroom. There are multiple routes to take when considering the type of lab or study.

Now I will be focusing on one for this week, that being our “Stained with Suspicion” kit. This scenario teaches blood detection and evidence processing lab. Through a list of tasks, students will learn about presumption tests for blood detection. I personally think that the process in which to solve the case is very realistic. Just like a real crime scene, students will be testing substances for the presence of blood, how to process evidence, testing carpet samples, and then form a hypothesis on whom they believe could be the suspect. After in which students select their suspect, there are additional exercises that can go beyond just testing samples. In many classrooms, teachers will allow an extra amount of time to have mock trials with suspects. Not only does this follow along with topic-based lesson plans, this also gives the opportunity for students to create and conduct their own questioners. In many experiences, this is a great chance for those questioning an interest in crime scene investigation, to confirm whether it brings interest in the matter.

This kit does come fully equipped with all supplies needed to preform all the tasks needed to solve the crime! Included in the kit: A properly sealed evidence bag of carpet pieces, Hydrogen Peroxide, Phenolphthalein solution, cotton swabs, and presumptive blood testing cards. Not being super experienced in laboratory assignments, I was pleased to see how having all material together, made it easier to understand the step by step process I had to take. I was impressed by how realistic the evidence is presented. Placed in a properly sealed plastic bag, the evidence is in labeled the same as if a police man or investigator were to collect the samples.

Included in this kit, which I found to be the best advantage, is the access to the online manuals. Easily accessible by teachers and their students, all crime scene information is in one location. Though these can be easy printed for tangible use, classrooms with access to computers and laptops benefit greatly by having a wide access to material within seconds. The goal of the virtual manual is to improve classroom proficiency and provide a steady based lab that can be easily monitored.

When taking a closer look into the manual, listed are day-to-day activities with suggested times per day. This kit particularly is estimated to be a five-day lesson. Day one is considered a set-up day where students can become aware of what crime scene they are going to be trying to solve. This is also a great opener to blood detection and evidence processing on how to properly deal with this collected evidence. Though it is optional, I noticed there are questions that can assigned out of class for further understanding of material. Off my recommendation, I believe assigning these questions would be beneficial to complete and then have a discussion over. Class discussions over questions would encourage class participation and bring up any questions or concerns about upcoming concerns.

When moving onto day two and three, I moved into testing the blood-stained carpet. This step of the procedure must be done very precisely because there is only a three-minute window to properly get the results needed to move forward. I enjoyed knowing that regardless of results, following is a group discussion. This in a sense, can pick up any students have been having a challenging time with testing the material if any problems would occur.

An additional feature I enjoyed was the lessons throughout the downloadable manual. Instead of just having step by step instructions and brief descriptions of what is to be performed, Crosscutting Concepts include background information on who and why we perform the methods that work best when configuring a crime scene. The background information adds a textbook lesson without the textbook feel. As a former student taking forensic classes, I had always dreaded the twelve-plus chapters required to read in the classroom textbooks. Now this wasn’t because the material was boring, but primarily because the content did not cover exactly what was needed when solving scenario-based crimes. Unlike bulky classroom textbooks, everything a student would need to know is covered in the manual provided. Additionally, I think the layout of the manual is very modern. Though visual appearance may not make a significant difference on how much a student can decipher the information, I slightly disagree. The outline is more appealing to look at and is spaced out enough to make content less crammed. Crammed content results of skimming information, rather than reading thoroughly.

As a recap of this specific kit, I found it to be very realistic and proposes a new method of learning. With all material needed, this is an easy hands-on lesson that mimics a former crime. Everything is easily accessible, which leads to a smoother going class with allocated time for discussion. In all, this kit is great for letting students work and understand how to test evidence. Though classrooms can have the option of going through the classroom textbooks, this is a fun transition that would result in better comprehension. The overall goal for teachers is to have students properly understand what they are trying to teach. With the five-day time estimate including time for discussion-based learning, teacher and student communication is bound to increase. By purchasing and properly using this kit (with the addition of the manual), the flow of student understanding will be greatly enhanced.

-Stephanie Rogner