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Students explore the science of CSI at Carnegie Science Center


November 11, 2008

 Combine 300 feet of crime scene tape, a human skeleton, bright red blood spatter, and 30 high school students, and you have the makings for the latest episode of a popular crime television program - unless you are at Carnegie Science Center for SciTech Days, where these puzzle pieces come together for a hands-on workshop on the real science behind crime scene investigation.

 Thousands of middle and high school students from throughout the region will experience first-hand how to process a crime scene, how the latest technology is training doctors in diagnosis, how an Etch A Sketch® relates to nanotechnology, and how the latest robotics technology is connected to a simple LEGO® robot during SciTech Days, November 11 – 14, a week of hands-on science experiences and workshops.

 Hundreds of western Pennsylvania professionals from corporations, universities, and professional societies will lead a wide variety of workshops and activities, allowing students and visitors to try first-hand the amazing technologies being developed in the region and pass along some of the secrets behind the latest scientific breakthroughs.

 Bringing together dozens of local organizations and thousands of middle and high school students during the weeklong celebration of western Pennsylvania technology, SciTech Days reinforces the vast number of technology-related career opportunities in the region. SciTech Days are part of Carnegie Science Center's initiative to develop a technologically-literate workforce for the future by inspiring today's students to explore careers in science.

 ”Silicon Valley in California may be recognized around the world for its computer industry,” said Linda Ortenzo, director, Carnegie Science Center's Regional SciTech Initiative, “But the variety of high tech-focused corporations and organizations in western Pennsylvania make it one of the most technology-rich regions of the country. During SciTech Days, students from this region have tremendous opportunities to learn about, and participate in, activities exploring world-changing research.”

 During the weeklong celebration of regional technology, students will explore a mock crime scene, tour the outer reaches of the universe, examine how everyday choices impact the environment, and try their hand at medical diagnosis with a cutting-edge patient simulator.

 In the crime scene workshops Fingerprints, Faces and Forensics and Bones, Blood and Ballistics, students are presented with mock crime scenes, and guided by graduate students in the Forensics and Law program at Duquesne University, explore fingerprint identification, facial recognition software, skeletal identification, blood spatter analysis, blood typing, and forensic ballistics, learning first-hand both the practical uses of these skills and their scientific foundations.

 In 2006, the Science Center installed a state-of-the-art DigitalSky projection system in the Buhl Digital Dome high-definition planetarium, allowing visitors to travel to the deepest corners of space and examine the Universe as never before. Creating the Digital Cosmos, a workshop led by Science Center planetarium staff, provides visitors a first-hand look at the process of creating these stunning graphics and programs for the Science Center's planetarium and the massive computing power required to simulate traveling where no man has gone before.

 Is it Easy Being Green? asks students to examine their everyday activities, from the foods they eat to the clothes they wear to the technologies they use throughout the day to estimate their own carbon footprint. After estimating their own environmental impacts (including burying a student in a mountain of aluminum cans representing their annual soda consumption), students witness the environmental impact of fossil fuel emissions and habitat destruction on the Science Center's 3-D Magic Planet projection system.


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