(pictured: Windham High School math teacher, John Ziegler and alternative education teacher, Adrianne Shetenhelm)
Windham High School students had the unique opportunity of working with the Windham Police Department last week to investigate a mock crime scene as part of an interdisciplinary activity integrated into their regular classes. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors came out of their math, science, English, law, and journalism classes for a hands-on activity where they played either a police detective, forensic analyst, journalist, or lawyer to help solve the mystery in a mock hit and run crime scene that took place in two locations on the Windham Raymond School District campus.
Collaboratively planned by high school math teacher, John Ziegler, alternative education teacher, Adrianne Shetenhelm, and School Resource Officer Seth Fournier, the Crime Scene Investigation Unit is in its second year running and has more than doubled in student participation. The unit integrates multiple course topics into one real-life, hands-on activity that gives students an opportunity to try out potential career options, and gets them out of the classroom and working together.
Windham senior, Kendall Mesoin described the activity as fun and different. She loves the fact that the activity is hands-on and is not in the classroom. When asked what she is learning, she replied that she felt as though she was learning a lot about problem-solving with a team, and the importance of communicating about what you are seeing and doing in order to “put two and two together” to help solve the mystery.
The students took part in the Crime Scene Investigation Unit in class-sized groups for one hour at a time throughout the day while their teachers accompanied them. At each location students had the opportunity to learn from detectives about the various tasks, approaches to investigation including collecting evidence as a team. For example, students from Mr. Wirtz’s Chemistry class talked with Windham Detective Sergeant Andrews about the potential impact of cross contamination on a forensic investigation while they worked together to collect evidence from the scene.
The day was considered an enormous success by teachers and students alike. They continue to refine the unit and hope to expand the opportunity to students again next year.