CSI comes to PHS

Students taking Biology 2 at Pennsbury High School West recently got a glimpse into the world of forensics when the Bucks County Mobile Crime Unit came to campus.

The class, taught by Chevon Helms, is focused on forensics for the first marking period. The challenge? Students have to work together to solve the mysterious death of a woman.

“Students play the role of investigators to examine the crime scene for clues and interpret key information gathered from interviews of friends, persons of interest, and digital traces of evidence,” said Mrs. Helms.

“Students also play the role of forensic scientists to analyze each piece of evidence collected from the crime scene, such as hair, fingerprints, blood, DNA, and unknown substances to determine what happened to the victim,” added Mrs. Helms.

The visit with the Bucks County Mobile Crime Unit led by Detectives David Coyne and Dante Montella of the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, and intern Jean Poulson, helped bring real-world experience to Pennsbury students.

Detectives Coyne and Montella talked about how they collect and preserve evidence at a crime scene. The detectives displayed all of the equipment used to collect fingerprints, samples of blood and DNA, and other biological specimens. Students also learned about footprint casting and fiber collections and how detectives establish a timeline of events and photograph a crime scene.

“If we go on scene and find that there is evidence, we have to be able to preserve it and collect it show it at a later time,” Detective Montella told the students.

“So, in order to do that, you have to follow certain procedures. All of this equipment is used so that we can recreate it (the crime scene) at a different time for a judge or jury.”

“The students had nothing but great things to say about the day and even asked great questions,” said Mrs. Helms. “They learned about the real-life use of the materials we are learning about or simulating in class. It was a fantastic learning experience for all involved. Detectives Coyne and Montella, and intern Poulson had field knowledge, expertise, and experiences that they could share with the students and how their career pathways led them to this point.”

In the second marking period, Mrs. Helms’ students will focus on solving a disease outbreak at a hospital.

PHOTO CAP: Detective Dante Montella with the Bucks County District Attorney’s office explains the various tools used to process a crime scene.

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