young man posing next to inked handprintsForensic science student A.J. Spencer displays his handiwork created with fingerprint analysis materials.

Students conducting crime scene investigation at home

Forensic Sciences is not allowing the pandemic to get in the way of hands-on learning.

In the fall, students in the Applied Entomology class received insect collection kits to conduct field work, and this semester, students in the Forensic Identification course received forensic identification kits, including fingerprint analysis materials. Digital cameras will be loaned to students in the Digital Photography in Forensic Science course.

“When the pandemic happened, the Forensic programs had to shut down some of the most important — and required — courses where the students acquire fundamental and advanced hands-on skills in a variety of crime scene investigative techniques,” said the program administrator, Maria Cioppa.

She said that instructors worked hard to develop contingency plans for limited class sizes, hybrid courses, and a range of other possibilities.

“When the University went online for the fall, and then the province declared a complete lockdown in January, we already had ways to ensure that students got the needed hands-on learning from home,” Dr. Cioppa said.

Being afforded hands-on experience is appreciated by students, like forensics major Payton Jones.

“Seeing first-hand how the pressure and angle of an inked finger can affect the clarity and detail of the print is one of the lessons you can only really get from doing it yourself,” Jones said. “Taking and analyzing my own fingerprints has been a fun and informative experience, and I am happy to have been able to do the labs despite recent COVID-19 restrictions.”

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