CSI comes to THS

Apr. 04, 2014 @ 02:09 PM

Thomasville High School students got an up close view of some possible careers that could be waiting for them once they graduate.
The DESTINY Traveling Science Learning Program paid a visit to THS this week and introduced students to a wide array of in-demand 21st Century careers that resemble some popular TV shows. The DESTINY bus pulled into the THS parking lot and offered students a fully-equipped laboratory on wheels where they could put their crime-solving skills to work.
“Our goal as we travel the state is to get students excited about science so hopefully they'll move into science careers when they graduate high school,” said Kathy Oakes, a science education specialist with UNC-Chapel's Morehead Planetarium Science Center. “A lot of jobs are going that way and there a lot of jobs out there in biotechnology, forensics and research.”
Charlene Fortner's 10th grade science class on Wednesday was tasked with solving a museum robbery, using basic crime-solving techniques often seen on CSI television shows. Once they gathered enough information, students took their findings to the DESTINY bus and experienced a hands-on demonstration on how investigators use technology to analyze data.
“Most of them have seen CSI shows on TV so they understand some of the basic concepts but to actually do it here is really great for them,” Fortner said. “In class they get to learn behind the scenes like what happens at the sub-atomic level. They cut the DNA themselves. In the lab they get to see how it works.”
Students entered the lab with a list of suspects and possible motives. They identified four possible suspects and compared blood samples taken from the crime scene to DNA samples. Students solved the crime by using DNA gel electrophoresis, all of which they did themselves.
For some, the answer was a surprise.
“I like how we subtracted the DNA from the liquid and it showed us how it matched with the crime scene,” said Brandon Byerly, a 16-year-old sophomore. “I didn't think it was going to be Suspect No. 1. I thought it would be Suspect No. 2. I think it was good opportunity because I'm looking forward to doing something in biotechnology.”
Fellow sophomore Kyrie Colson also said the experience opened his eyes to a possible future in biotechnology.
“I think it was great,” Colson said. “In the long run, this is something I'm looking at. I like the biotech stuff.”
Biotechnology careers are some of the fastest growing in the country, Oakes said. Lab technicians, medical technologists and forensic analysts are in high demand and students can start theses careers in as little as two years.
The DESTINY bus visits more than 270 middle and high schools across North Carolina every year. Created by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2000, the program has impacted more than 260,000 students
For more information, visit moreheadplanetarium.org/go/destiny.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.