Murder, blackmail and car theft will be on the agenda for dozens of students in Armidale this week – not as offenders but as crime solvers at the longest-running forensic science camp for secondary students in the country.
Starting Tuesday and running until Saturday, The Armidale School Forensic Science Camp has this year attracted 89 boys and girls from 28 schools in NSW, Qld, the ACT and for the first time, the Northern Territory.
Reaching adulthood – this is the 21st year – the camp has enduring appeal, according to this year’s camp director, TAS Year 10 student Lucy Ball.
“The fact that it is student led is a very engaging and important part of the camp and makes it quite unique and different to other academic extension opportunities,” she said.
“Besides, because it is a forensic camp it has a ‘gory’ element which, like TV crime shows, draws people right in.”
During the next four days the 89 campers, all in Year 8, are put in teams to solve one of seven different scenarios that have been developed by 14 Year 9 ‘controllers’ who attended the camp last year. Management is overseen by half a dozen Year 10 students who are also responsible for logistics including recruitment, catering, and organising accommodation on campus and other activities.
“The campers learn a range of professional skills such as DNA, blood and fibre testing, cryptography and fingerprint analysis, as well as how to apply logic and look for the finer details that can make all the difference – all as part of a team which is likely to include people you didn’t know before,” Lucy said.
Having attended a management camp at TAS in late January to nut out their scenarios and create their ‘evidence’, the scenario controllers have been at TAS since Saturday putting the finer details together before the first-time campers arrive this afternoon.
The camp culminates on Saturday when teams present their committal cases to a legal professional (Armidale solicitor Tim Rice) who takes on the role of a magistrate and determines if the cases are strong enough to go before a court.