Vanier principal 'murdered' — CSI students on the case

VANIER CSI STUDENTS Vivian Nguyen ,left, and Meredith Wicklund, break out the Bunsen burner to test for possible poison found in a teapot at the scene of the crime. - Renée Andor
VANIER CSI STUDENTS Vivian Nguyen ,left, and Meredith Wicklund, break out the Bunsen burner to test for possible poison found in a teapot at the scene of the crime.
— image credit: Renée Andor

Imagine being a high school student/forensic investigator working on a case to discover who killed the principal.
Well, that's just what Grade 11 students at G.P. Vanier Secondary are doing for their English and chemistry classes.
The students chose to take CSI 11, a combination of the two classes with a focus on crime scene investigation.
"They'll be taking evidence from the crime scene and piecing it together," said English 11 teacher Megan Haut. "They can go and interview suspects, so that's going to be part of the process of figuring out who's actually responsible for the crime."
The students still learn all of the required skills in the regular courses, but the chemistry course centres around forensics and the English course centres around the mystery genre.
Then, for their final project, students pretend they're investigating who killed the principal using forensic evidence left at the scene.
They narrow down who the suspects are — other teachers at school — by questioning them based on the evidence collected. Then they film their own version of the popular television show CSI at the end of the semester later this month.
Haut and chemistry 11 teacher Crystal Gaudry came up with the idea during a professional development day about a year ago. School administration liked it, and the course started in September.
Students still have a full block for each of the courses; they just take both the classes together as a cohort, which Haut said has created a close-knit group.
"I've seen a sense of collegiality or community from having the two blocks together, so the kids are very supportive of each other and they've gotten to know each other very well," explained Haut. "There's a really nice atmosphere in the class."
She also pointed out that because the students are enthusiastic about the topic they're able to relate well to the subject matter.
"I think the fact that it connects to real world — what they see as real-world jobs, literacies, skills — makes it that much more applicable for them," explained Haut.
She also said that the combined class has been beneficial for her as a teacher.
"I like working with somebody who's outside of my department, who has a different approach to doing things. I've learned a lot," said Haut. "I think it's very good for students and good for teachers as well."
Because the course has been so successful, Haut said it will be offered again this coming September. And, a year-long option for Grade 12 English, math, physics and engineering is a possibility at the start of the next school year.
"We've just actually gotten a pretty firm rubber stamp on (the Grade 12 courses) because we've had so much success with the CSI class, that hopefully it will go forward, and I think it's going to be and interesting class," she explained.

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