Wednesday, April 4, 2007

High School Daze

I spoke to five science classes at Lakeside High School the other day. It was the day before spring break and held in a library with very little air circulating. I walk around when I speak and could feel the rivulets of sweat running down my midriff.

The classes combined equalled about 150 students. My talk that day was about the forensic science field, our state lab, what the jobs are, some of the specifics, and the odd little details. I made sure to get the skinny from J.R. Howard, the Director of the Arkansas State Crime Lab before I went, because I am not keen on passing out misinformation or disinformation. I had thought that with CSI being so popular that I would get a lot of questions and feedback. (I'm always hearing how universities are scrambling to set up more forensic science-based and criminal justice classes.) But, it was very quiet. I think I only got two questions all day. Granted, one class was studying environmental science but the two questions actually came from them. (My husband—who was playing my lovely assistant—said that the questions came from two males who thought I was "hot".) Now the validity of that, I cannot comment.

I was disappointed however in that when I asked them questions, there were no answers. Quiet again. Okay, they were dragged there by their teachers, but where is the passion? I came to forensic science very early, (in the late 80's) before it was on TV and before every other show was a crime drama, but I was led to believe that students were ga-ga over CSI and here I was representing the topic with no life, not nary a spark.

I'm glad I'm not in high school anymore.


Charlie said...

I think it's a mixture of the kids being dragged, and it being a talk rather than a demonstration. I think what really interests youngsters are the things like fingerprints appearing in the "superglue fume" test, and bloodstains appearing with luminol.
It's not the reality of CSI life that they like, it's the sexy TV stuff where every test takes 5 seconds and has a beautiful visual outcome.

Anonymous said...

With 150 people in a class, people are less inclined to throw in their 2 cents for fear of ridicule from their peers; it's really the same in most situations with large crowds.

Public Speaking is something a lot of people fear.

Andrea Campbell said...

Charlie and Anonymous,

Thanks for leaving your postings.

Yes, Charlie, it's true. This generation, as well as the two before, have grown up with graphics and lots of media. I try to incorporate the "look-see" or hands-on element in my talks for that very reason.

And I do understand the "ridicule" factor and angst of speaking out, not only among teens but adults too.

Rob said...

I teach a forensic themed science unit, and it's usually a struggle to get much out of those students, even though they have selected that course (it's the most popular one we offer).