The second coolest lecture I’d ever given

This is the second part of a two-post series on giving a presentation on forensic DNA to elementary school kids.  

I gave this DNA talk on February 12, of 2012. I’m reblogging it from another one of my wordpress blogs.

It’s been so long since I worked in forensic DNA, but I do keep up to date.  Occasionally I get to give lectures to schools.  I gave one lecture to a class of first year biology students at a university before, but I still prefer giving lectures to elementary school kids.  It’s WAY much more fun.

What made this one awesomely awesome was that I gave this lecture to my own eldest daughter’s fourth grade class.

The forensic DNA talk I gave turned out well, and despite low lighting, overhead projector difficulties from time to time and a REALLY bad hair day (which is the reason I cropped my head off in these shots.  Trust me, it was scary!).

Some (fuzzy) photos from the forensics talk.  I asked my husband to be my papperazzi, though the camera went really wonky in the low lighting. He doubled as my helper when I needed him.

This is a great DNA model, unlike my low-tech pipe cleaner and pasta model the first time I gave this lecture for kids.


My forensic evidence bag o’tricks.  Evidence from crime scenes comes in the lab in sealed paper bags, and from the hospital in evidence collection kits.


Pretend evidence – I had a few types of mock evidence:  a blood tube, bloodstains on a mini-blanket, swabs and, hair and fiber evidence.


I’m sure I’m saying something really cool about science in this photo.


The talk went really well, I had a good time and I used great comedic timing whenever possible, ESPECIALLY when I made a mistake or I had a technical difficulty.  Works as a nice distraction and gives me breathing room.

Though I’m usually as serious as a heart attack, apparently I’m hil-AIR-ious from time to time when the spirit moves me.

I explained to them how DNA is tested in the forensic lab (which you can learn more about by scrolling down to the next post after this one).  Since this was an advanced class, I ended up going into more details about the procedures and the evaluation of the results and how I help put criminals in jail and how I helped other people who were wrongly convicted get out of jail with my results.

One of the girls raised her hand and I thought it was a question.  Instead she said, “so, you’re like a hero ?!”  (I thought that was so awesome!).

Well, yeah, I guess I was.

[and, interestingly enough, this young fan/girl of mine became my daughter’s BFF since then and our two families have gotten together over the past two years.  it’s been splendid…]

The kids asked great questions and enjoyed the interactive approach – I passed around my visual aids so the kids got to see them close-up.

After my lecture, I asked them if they thought they wanted to be forensic scientists when they grew up.  I was tickled when about 8 of them (a lot of them girls) raised their hands enthusiastically.

I was really glad to hear a lot of the kids enjoyed the talk, and when I asked my daughter if I embarrassed her at all (which was a very distinct worry she had two days ago), she said “no” and she thought it was cool.


About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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