ONR-funded STEM program offers peek into world of real 'CSI'

July 21, 2011

ARLINGTON, Va.--Students and teachers from more than 25 Dallas schools will spend July 18-29 dusting for fingerprints and analyzing facial images at the second annual Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Camp, through a program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Southern Methodist University's (SMU) CSI Summer Camp, which began this week, is another opportunity for ONR to introduce middle school students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and careers, said Dr. Kam Ng, ONR's deputy director of research, whose office oversees the effort.

The summer program, split into one-week sessions for girls and another for boys, will allow students to use science and math skills in real-world settings, Ng said.

"CSI is an exciting topic, particularly for young girls," said Ng, who noted statistics demonstrate that girls are less likely to pursue professional disciplines that focus on STEM.

Students and teachers from Dallas-area public middle schools and Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools as well as a KIPP school in Philadelphia, are participating in the camp. More than 80 percent of the students enrolled in the charter school program come from underserved populations, according to SMU's technical proposal for the camp.

The CSI Summer Camp opens doors for students, not only in furthering their studies in high school and college but also in career choices, said Becky Archer, a sixth-grade teacher from KIPP Philadelphia and a participant in the two-week program.

"Science is such an important part of education," Archer said. "It's amazing. I had six girls [Monday] who said they are interested in forensics, crime scene analysis and working for the FBI."

Participants will get hands-on experience in crime-scene analysis as well as hear from experts in the CSI field. Previous speakers have included medical examiners, SWAT teams, Texas Rangers and a retired CIA employee who created disguises for agents. The CSI Summer Camps were first launched in July 2010. At the time it was limited to 80 girls. The curriculum was based on 20 activities spread across the five days.

The Department of the Navy is investing in K-12 STEM education and outreach because more than 50 percent of its scientists and engineers will be eligible for retirement by 2020. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has pledged to double funding for the U.S. naval STEM program over the next five years. The move will increase the Navy's total dollars committed to STEM education initiatives to more than $100 million by 2015.
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About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Office of Naval Research

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