Teaching forensic science: Bringing CSI into the classroom


Richard Saferstein

Author Affiliation: 

New Jersey State Police (ret.)





First and foremost, the objective of a basic forensic science course is to present the techniques, skills, and limitations of the modern crime laboratory to a student who has no background in the forensic sciences. No prior knowledge about scientific principles or techniques can be assumed on the part of the student. He or she is introduced to those areas of chemistry and biology relating to the analysis of physical evidence with a minimum of scientific terminology and equations. The chemistry and biology discussed are limited to a minimum core of facts and principles that will make the subject matter comprehensible and meaningful to the non-scientist. Under the umbrella of forensic science, a wide spectrum of subject, such as analytical separations, spectrometry, trace elemental analysis, DNA, and serology, can be covered in an illuminating and meaningful fashion. The utilization of virtual forensic science laboratories to emphasize forensic analytical technologies will be demonstrated.