How to solve a criminal mystery

ear 13 pupil Sarah Lee (left), of Wellington, applies ink to find a fingerprint and Olivia Fox,...
ear 13 pupil Sarah Lee (left), of Wellington, applies ink to find a fingerprint and Olivia Fox, also of Wellington, helps at a simulated crime scene, at the University of Otago yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Our human delight in solving mysteries partly explains the popularity of University of Otago courses on crime scene investigation.

Dr Angela Clark, a lecturer at the university's Sir John Walsh Research Institute, made that point yesterday.

``It's part of human nature.

``We like to put together puzzles and solve mysteries.

``We're investigative by nature.''

Dr Clark yesterday presented a two-hour-long afternoon ``snack session'' on crime scene investigation, which was attended by more than 15 senior secondary school pupils from throughout the country.

This is the 29th year that the university has run its overall, week-long ``Hands-on at Otago'' programme, which enables pupils to learn more about university-level science, humanities and business subjects.

Dr Clark also co-ordinates a paper on forensic biology, which has attracted 180 participants, and is the most popular of 68 papers offered this month at the university's annual summer school.

The popularity of several CSI television programmes and related shows had also contributed to the popularity of the crime scene investigation ``snack'' session, and the summer school forensic biology paper, she said.

Yesterday's session included advice on how to carefully record details of a crime scene during an investigation, and how to detect and record fingerprints.

She was well aware that people had already learned much about such underlying investigative techniques by watching CSI shows on television, and her presentations now included more advanced material as well, including about human behaviour, she said.

Sarah Lee (17), a Wellington pupil, said the ``Hands-on'' programme was ``really interesting'' and she enjoyed the crime scene snack.

Olivia Fox (16) was ``loving'' the ``awesome'' Otago programme, and praised the snack.

Pupils study one project in mornings throughout the week, and shorter afternoon ``snack'' sessions on other topics are offered in the afternoon.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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