ELIZABETH — The Benedictine Academy CSI Science Contest held at the all-female Catholic secondary school on Saturday, Oct. 5 brought together a total of eight teams from four area elementary schools.
The forty-eight young student participants spent several hours investigating a staged “crime” and then attempted to solve the mystery surrounding it based upon “clues” provided by the Elizabeth Police Department.
Girls in grades 6 to 8 participated in the event, which included teams of students guided by a faculty advisor, performing basic crime lab investigations. Each student team featured a team leader, an “evidence collector”, a “lab technician”, an “interviewer”, a “sketch artist” and a “photographer”.
The first place award for solving the “crime” was won by Maria L. Varisco-Rogers Charter School of Newark. Second place went to St Genevieve School, Elizabeth. Third place was awarded to St. Joseph the Carpenter School, Roselle. The fourth school participating in the CSI Contest was Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy of Elizabeth. All students received certificates for participating.
Benedictine Academy was transformed into a virtual, interactive “Police and Fire Department investigation scene” for the duration of the four-hour CSI student event. It began in the school cafeteria, with all eyes on members of the Elizabeth Police Department’s “Crime Scene Investigation” unit, as they interrogated two “suspects,” possible “burglars,” who had been “arrested” for “driving under the influence” after “crashing their car into another vehicle.”
After viewing the simulated “arrest” and “interrogation”, all students participating in the CSI event then moved to the school parking lot, where the Elizabeth Fire Department staged a response to the aforementioned car crash which would have occurred prior to the arrests, involving the two “suspects” and an innocent “victim.” As part of the exhibition, the Fire Department demonstrated a vehicle “extraction” for students to observe.
CSI student participants were then allowed to investigate the “damaged” cars with the “injured” lying on stretchers. After examining the “suspects’” vehicle for clues and taking notes, the students spread out in numerous “investigation rooms” (classrooms) inside the Academy.
The police detectives on hand assisted by helping students piece together “clues” from “evidence” presented to the various investigative teams. They also offered insights into how the unit conducts analysis of such “crimes”. The student “crime scene investigators” examined “crime scene evidence” such as “fingerprint smudges,” “blood” and “DNA” that they had collected.
Benedictine Academy Science Department faculty member Tom Randle coordinated the event along with Elizabeth Police Sergeant Mike Jones. Other members of the Elizabeth Police Department who assisted students with their investigations were Detectives Mickey Colon, Paul Pasternak, Yogi Barrios, Joseph Garcia, Romina Canon and Fred Beltran. The Elizabeth Fire Department response was coordinated by Captain Gary Haszko.
Benedictine Academy was founded by the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth in 1915 to serve young women in Elizabeth and the surrounding communities. A Catholic, college preparatory high school, the mission of the Academy is to educate young women to be responsible leaders of the 21st Century.