Freshmen at Reynoldsburg's HS(2) Academy contemplated simulated "blood spatter" and other crucial clues at a simulated crime scene earlier this week as they delved into the science of forensics with teachers from the PAST Innovation Lab.
The program helps freshmen "bridge the span from a traditional classroom atmosphere to a classroom that takes on problem-solving," Innovation Lab instructor Sheli Smith said.
The orientation program at HS(2) Academy began Monday, Aug. 5, and runs through Friday, Aug. 8.
School begins Wednesday, Aug. 13, for Reynoldsburg high school students.
Freshman orientation for the district's four Academies -- HS(2), BELL, Encore and eSTEM -- began this week, with special programs for ninth-graders at each academy. Students also attended "Raider check-ins," to find their lockers, meet teachers and pick up classroom schedules.
PAST stands for "Partnering Anthropology with Science and Technology," Smith said.
"The kids learn they have to go to trial at the end of the week, so they have to present evidence to take a murder case to trial," she said.
"They created a chain of evidence on Monday and over the course of the next four days, study evidence such as blood spatter and learn how to figure out the height of a person based on bones."
The description of the program may sound grisly, but "kids get totally into it," Smith said.
"They study a crime scene and solve a murder investigation," she said. "By the end of the week, they put all the things they learned into practice.
"The program is infused with algebra and trigonometry, geometry, science and chemistry.
"We also talk to them about how they like to learn and how to identify their learning styles, which helps them get into the appropriate role within their teams," she said.
Smith said every group of students has a "note-taker" or someone who likes to draw and take pictures, or someone good at speaking, math or details -- all of which reveal their learning styles.
"The forensics program models for the kids the best way to learn in a most engaging way," she said.
She said the Forensics in the Classroom (FITC) program is hands-on and interactive, designed and developed by the PAST Foundation and the Ohio State University Department of Anthropology.
"Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in forensic science and use critical thinking skills to solve a real problem," she said.
The PAST Innovation lab was founded in 2000 in Columbus.
Staff members are anthropologists, scientists, researchers and teachers who bring problem-based STEM learning to the classroom, Smith said.
Returning to class
Tricia Moore, director of shared services and partnerships, said staggered start days are planned for Reynoldsburg students enrolled in elementary, middle and junior high schools.
All elementary school students whose last names begin with A-L will return to class on Wednesday, Aug. 13. They will stay home the next day, Aug. 14, while students whose names begin with the letters M-Z will start class. All students are scheduled to return to school on Friday, Aug. 15.
Start dates are by grade levels at Waggoner Road and Hannah Ashton middle schools and Waggoner Road and Baldwin Road junior high schools.
Sixth- and seventh-graders will go to school Aug. 13, but not Aug. 14. Fifth- and eighth-graders will go to school Aug. 14, but not Aug. 13, while all grades are scheduled to attend school Aug. 15.
Moore said 20 minutes of instructional time was added to kindergarten classes, so morning kindergarten runs from 8:05 to 10:55 a.m. while afternoon classes start at 11:45 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m.
All elementary schools begin the day at 8:05 a.m. and end at 2:35 p.m.
At the middle school and junior high schools, start times vary. The day begins at 7:25 a.m. and ends at 1:55 p.m. at Hannah Ashton; students start at 8:50 a.m. and end the day at 3:20 p.m. at Baldwin Road; at both the Waggoner Road buildings, the school day starts at 9:20 a.m. and ends at 3:50 p.m.