Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hands-on forensics program aims to get students back on track

Tenth-graders Quentin Moran, center, and Anthony Sowell’s questioning of murder suspect “Lucky,” played by Forensics Technology’s Orlando Bravo, becomes heated.


Tenth-graders Quentin Moran, center, and Anthony Sowell’s questioning of murder suspect “Lucky,” played by Forensics Technology’s Orlando Bravo, becomes heated.


The media center at Northeast High became a crime scene Thursday, but in a good way.

In groups of three, 10th-grade students from the school's "Back on Track" program brushed Pepsi cans for fingerprints and compared gun cartridge cases, part of a day-long class to introduce them to the field of crime scene investigation.

The program, funded by a Planned Parenthood grant, aims to re-engage students who have fallen off track for graduation due to poor scores in Algebra I or English I in their freshman year. Fifty 10th-grade students participate in smaller class sizes and "experiential" programs to heighten their interest in academics.

The simulated investigation was led by Forensics Technology, a company that engages communities in the crime scene investigation process.

When Northeast principal Kevin Hendrick heard about Bayside High School's success with the demonstration, he scheduled a CSI day for his students.

"You see the conversations they're having and it's deep discussion about content and it's high-order thinking for them," Hendrick said during a visit to Thursday's demonstration.

The 22 participating students were handed manila folders filled with information on the fictional murder of a wealthy music producer — biographies on the suspects, crime scene evidence and notebooks. Then they divided into two investigative teams, aided by volunteers from Forensics Technology. Volunteer actors with the company played the roles of suspects, including the producer's wife, his mistress, a television show co-star and a talent scout.

Manny Dominguez, a Forensics Technology volunteer, guided students through the process of lifting fingerprints from a Pepsi can to a card.

"If one of those kids goes home and stares at the print card we gave them and says 'I think I can do this job,' and this projects them in a different direction, that would be awesome," Dominguez said. "It would be great to reach out to even just one."

Dominguez's efforts resonated with Northeast student Zack Vance, who has been researching a profession in forensics technology for seven months. "This is what I want to do in my future," Vance said.

Pairs of students shared notes and took turns questioning the five suspects. Quentin Moran and Anthony Sowell drilled actor Orlando Bravo, who played the role of a talent scout named "Lucky." Bravo's character made the students emotional, repeating their questions to throw them off.

"It was going good in the beginning and then he started trying to play mind tricks on you," Moran said.

Students discussed their theories on the murder. Destiney Gatewood and Jessica Stern compared notes on their interview with an actor who played the mistress.

"I thought we would just be looking at little things and not be really doing anything, but we're actually having a hands-on experience," Gatewood said.

At the end of the day, the students weighed the evidence and concluded that the mistress and the talent scout committed the murder. But but they were shocked to discover it was "Heidi Sommers," the television show co-star.

Hands-on forensics program aims to get students back on track 10/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 4:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New Safety Harbor post office will be on McMullen-Booth Road

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — Although a move-in date is months away, representatives for the U.S. Postal Service recently signed the lease for the city's new post office.

    In June of next year a new post office will open at the site of a former Fifth Third Bank branch at 1703 N  McMullen Booth Road, Safety Harbor.
  2. Former owner of Sirata Beach Resort purchases two Tampa Bay shopping centers

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — After selling the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference in February, Nicklaus of Florida, Inc., has purchased two Tampa Bay shopping centers to diversify the firm's portfolio in the area. Colliers International, representing the sellers, announced the transaction this week.

    Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, one of Tampa Bay's last family-owned beach hotels, was sold to a Texas-based company, Crescent Real Estate LLC for $108.19 million. [LARA CERRI | Times]
  3. Shania Twain arena tour includes Tampa stop this time


    Shania Twain is coming to Tampa as part of a major U.S. tour in support of her forthcoming (and long-awaited) new album Now.

    Shania Twain will play Amalie Arena in Tampa in 2018.
  4. In one day, fundraisers appear to reach goal to move Confederate monument from downtown Tampa


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners gave an ultimatum Wednesday to people who want to move a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa: Raise the money yourselves or it stays. They had 30 days.

    It took 24 hours.

    Private money is flowing in to help move the Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument from the old county courthouse to a private family cemetery. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  5. Who are the antifa?


    On Monday, President Donald Trump capitulated to the popular demand that he distance himself from his comment that "many sides" were to blame in Charlottesville by explicitly denouncing white nationalism. "Racism is evil," he appeared to grudgingly concede, "including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists."

    A group of counterprotesters who identified themselves as antifa, or anti-fascists, rest Saturday during a rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. Counterprotesters in Charlottesville came united against white supremacy, but they advocated a wide array of beliefs, tactics and goals. [Edu Bayer | New York Times]