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Summer camp students solve murder mystery in Chemistry’s “CSI Lab”

UBC Chemistry welcomed summer camp students to the Department on July 25 and August 1 for a full day of forensic investigations in the UBC Chemistry “CSI” lab. The children, aged 13-15, took on the role of newly recruited forensic chemists who were tasked with the job of solving a fictional Chemistry Department murder mystery.

These two camp days in Chemistry were a part of the weekly summer outreach camps put on by UBC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. This year the Department was invited to participate by adopting one full day a week for the Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy Camp designed for kids in grades 8-10. This camp provides bright children with the chance to work in real university labs while exploring advanced topics in science.

The Chemistry camp days were organized by Demonstrator Tamara Kunz and Marketing and Communications Assistant Lindsay Dykstra. The murder mystery followed the story of a fictional chemistry instructor named Dr. Molly Cule who was poisoned in the Chemistry Department. Throughout the day the children learned several chemistry techniques to examine pieces of evidence from the fake crime scene. The techniques included soil density testing, fingerprint and shoeprint analyses, pH testing, poison analysis, and a luminol indicator reaction to test for the presence of blood. By the end of the camp day the children had compared their results with samples taken from the list of suspects and were able to determine who killed Dr. Molly Cule. The summer campers also had the chance to tour the Shared Instrument Facility, learning about the types of equipment that forensic investigators might use when examining evidence from a crime scene.

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To learn more about the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s summer camps, visit: http://outreach.phas.ubc.ca/SummerCamps/2012/camps.php#chemphysastron