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Chem Class Goes To The Crime Scene

Chemistry set class, scientists
CBS/AP
Not many people look back fondly at all the fun they had in high school chemistry class. But all that seems to change when the teacher turns the classroom into a crime scene.

The class costs about $3500 a year. And kids raise a lot of the money themselves.

For millions of Americans, CSI is a show they just have to see. And for hundreds of high school students, forensic science is a class they just have to take.

"This is one of the few classes that i actually go home and discuss about," says one student, Matt.

Two years ago the only mystery was how to get kids interested in science. They had to take courses like chemistry, but they certainly weren't clamoring to get into the lab. So they added a little blood, a dummy or two, some fingerprints, and now, these science classes have a waiting list.

What's really impressive is the setup: students type and match blood, just like on TV. They don’t use real blood.

They also measure fake crime scenes, take fake fingerprints. One field trip was going to the morgue.

By studying the gruesome details, kids learn the same principles of chemistry as any other class. Only the teaching methods have changed.

"It’s really exciting to see them want to come to science class. You teach other classes and you have to drag them in and then they grunt at homework. Our homework is things like making a blood-typing chart," says the teacher.
The course's popularity has become a problem: There's only room for about a hundred students a year. At least half the students who want in are turned away every year.

"It may not really relate (to their lives), but one thing it does help with is critical thinking. We actually solve things in this class," says the teacher. "They love to apply the science that they learned. And if you give them a way to apply it, they're going to remember this a lot more than some of the chemistry students are going to remember how many protons are in an element. They're going to remember this forever."

Classes have a waiting list. The school is Mehlville High in St. Louis.

For more information on teaching forensic science, Click here.