Juniors Ellie Williams
(left) and Grace
skulls during a
class at Montgomery
Blair High School.
A popular science elective at Montgomery Blair gives students
a glimpse into the world of investigating crime scenes
BY JULIE RASICOT
MONTGOMERY BLAIR HIGH SCHOOL
senior Mika Yatsuhashi picks up the
small, bleached lower jawbone of a
young child and gently turns it over in
her hand. As she and three classmates
peer at its row of baby teeth and the
adult teeth still locked below the gum
line, they consult pages of labeled drawings, looking for clues to determine the
child’s age at the time of death.
“;ey have all their baby teeth in,”
Camila Colan says.
“So they’re definitely over 31 months,”
Nick Fechner-Mills says. “But do they
STEPPING UNDER THE TAPE
have any other adult teeth?”
As the seniors debate the age of the
child, other groups of students are exam-
ining more human and animal bones.
Mostly real but including some plas-
tic models, the bones are displayed in
shallow tubs on lab tables in a science
classroom at the Silver Spring school.
For a generation that’s grown up
watching TV shows such as CSI and
Bones, teacher Megan Hart’s popu-
lar forensic science elective offers
real-world lessons in how crimes are
solved. ;e course for upperclassmen is
o;ered at several Montgomery County
public high schools; 160 juniors and
seniors are taking it this year at Blair.
“It combines some bio, some chem,
some physics, even other disciplines
like anthropology or geology,” says Hart,
who has been teaching the course for 10
years. Hart strives to make the yearlong
course as hands-on as possible—
activities include creating cast impressions of
shoe prints, identifying bones, extracting DNA from students’ hair shafts, and
analyzing fingerprints, blood splatter
patterns and handwriting.