Training for CSI Starts Early at Penn State McKeesport

They stood in the rain and squinted through the rain drops, straining to see every item in the CSI Mobile Van. Young campers at Penn State McKeesport?s Kids? Camp, a summer youth program sponsored by Continuing Education, were given the chance to see first-hand what it takes to investigate a crime scene just like the popular television series CSI.

This year?s CSI Camp was partially supported through a generous grant from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh, an organization of local scientists and educators who volunteer their time to promote science education at all levels from elementary to college.

Area children in grades 4 through 8 spent a week in class with Officer Ken Wehrli of the White Oak Police Department and DARE Officer in the community. They quickly discovered ways to dust and lift finger prints from items and practiced making implants and molds of their own teeth in foam containers. After a week in the classroom, the young CSI campers had an opportunity to practice what they had learned at a mock crime scene set-up on campus.

As an added treat under the direction of Detective Joseph Osinski of the City of McKeesport Police Department, the campers were able to explore an actual mobile crime scene lab that was provided to the campus from the Allegheny County District Attorney?s Office. The crime scene van was equipped with individual CSI kits and a computer and scanner hooked up to a database that matches evidence with criminal information that is kept on file with the county.

Possibly due to the CSI television series, CSI Camp this year was a popular class that filled up quickly and actually has a waiting list for next year. ?Each of our summer Kids? Camps offers a variety of learning experiences for these young students. Many of them return each year discovering other interests and creative ways to keep learning and have fun over the summer months? commented Dr. Susan C. Lewis, director of Continuing Education at Penn State McKeesport. ?The grant that we received from the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh enabled us to further develop the program and enhance the actual hands-on training. Plans to expand the program are currently underway for next year,? stated Dr. Lewis.

Starting as a young camper with an interest in crime scene investigations can actually lead to a career on a CSI series.David Thompson, an alumus from Penn State McKeesport followed his dream all the way to the sheriff?s office in Los Angeles and today he is a consultant on CSI Las Vegas.  For more information on services provided through Continuing Education at Penn State McKeesport, call 412-675-9040.