Forensics - science to die for

Murder is more popular than science with today's youngsters - if their TV viewing is any indication. So Glasgow Science Centre is using the fascination of forensics to introduce secondary pupils to modern science.

"Who Dunnit is a hands-on workshop," says Susan Meikle-ham, science education co-ordinator. "The pupils get to learn about forensic science by actually doing it, using real equipment."

Standard pipettes for measuring out small amounts of liquid are common in schools, but crime scene analysis needs more accurate and expensive micropipettes.

The new forensic workshop, in which a suspect is identified from his DNA, has been developed from an earlier one - It Wisnae Me - aimed at senior primary pupils, and created with the help of the Scottish Fingerprint Service. The science centre also delivers workshops at senior secondary level in the fundamental technique of modern biotechnology, the polymerase chain reaction.

Besides access to cutting-edge technology, a visit to the science centre offers the opportunity to interact with exhibits on many aspects of modern science. "Our kids really enjoyed the forensics workshop," says James Mc-Laughlin, who teaches biology at Eastbank Academy in Glasgow.

"There was a story to it, which appealed to them, and it was presented in a very visual way. The experience of the exhibits is less focused, and the young ones like the things they could touch and climb on, and understand quickly. They like the computing stuff, particularly the exhibit where they can see what they will look like as they age. That fascinates them."

There is an element of taking younger pupils to the science centre as an enjoyable day out, to give them a good feeling about studying science, he says. "Next time, I'd like to bring them to the planetarium, where I learnt a great deal when I came for my professional development. The science centre is very popular, and we bring our kids here as often as we can."

Who Dunnit is aimed at pupils from S1-4 and will run again at the Glasgow Science Centre in May.

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