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A Lab Murder Mystery

Posted by , on 18 February 2011

“A researcher is found dead hunched over her lab bench, and seven suspects are in custody. Now it’s up to 30 high school students to determine who killed her.” To quote from the UBC Science newsletter.

Don’t be alarmed, this isn’t tabloid fodder.

It’s actually part of a high school out-reach program, organized by UBC’s grad student society in chilly Vancouver, Canada. Hosting grad students were inspired by CSI, the shows, to stir up interest in research for visiting high schoolers.

Oh CSI. It’s like trash tv for bench scientists and their students (Okay..maybe not that trashy). But it’s simply irresistible even though you know it’s bad. (PCR’s that take 60 seconds to do, I mean, c’mon. But it looks so sexy…).

Now it’s also a brilliant method of interacting with students and communicating science.

Caylib Durand and Santiago Ramón-García (2010). The Use of Popular Fiction to Present a Professional Scientific Career to High School Students JOURNAL OF MICROBIOLOGY & BIOLOGY EDUCATION, 166-167 :10.1128/jmbe.v11i2.19 (Should the DOI link not work, try this one)

On the side, CSI or criminology is an actual career option for analytical chemists and molecular biologists. I remember seeing forensic education programs actively trying to recruit fresh biology grads. (e.g. BCIT in Vancouver). But you don’t need to have a forensics degree necessarily, some grads went directly into the field after grad school (something I’d heard of through their proud supervisors). It’s easy to google the recruiting websites of local law enforcement agencies. Forensic researchers usually fall under civilian work programs. Interestingly enough, salaries usually double the second year on the job. I wonder if it’s indicative of some nefarious trend. Most people can’t stomach hanging around another year? or is it just because of a lack of experienced workers in the field? If it’s anything like the actual show, I would guess it’s because it’s a lot to handle psychologically.

At any rate, ending off the post with a music video put together by disgruntled climatologists at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), from 2009. Who needs Al Gore to be the spokesperson for Climate Change?

Self-expression is not just for the artist (and emo teenagers).

Originally viewed at Pharyngula.

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Categories: Resources, Video

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