September brought with it the return of Adventure Club, our bimonthly program (alternating with American Girl Club) for 7-12 year-olds, and featuring a different exciting theme each month. For our first meeting of the new school year we went with Adventure Club: CSI Edition. Here's what we did!
Criminalist presentation: the coworker with which I share responsibility for this program had recently met the new criminalist for the city in which we work. As we chatted, the criminalist (I'll call her Ms. M) expressed an interest in coming to the library for programs focused on forensic science. My coworker was equally enthusiastic about this idea and, as we brainstormed themes for Adventure Club, we figured we'd take advantage of her generous offer. Arrangements were made and Ms. M joined us for our program. She prepared a 15-20-minute presentation in which she explained some of the aspects of her job. We live in a community without much crime, so a lot of what she spoke of she hadn't actually had a chance to practice, but that didn't seem to matter to the kids. Ms. M talked about what she does both at a crime scene and in her lab. She brought some of her equipment and showed it to the kids, explaining its purpose as she went. Finally, she demonstrated how she would dust for fingerprints. After her presentation was finished, the kids asked some questions and Ms. M gave great responses.
Fingerprinting: one of the easiest activities to tie into a CSI/forensics program is fingerprinting, so that's what we did. Ms. M fingerprinted each kid and then we provided them all with miniature magnifying glasses so they could study their prints. Ms. M had explained the different kinds of fingerprint patterns, so the kids were encouraged to figure out what kind of pattern they had. They loved this.
Observation skills test: during the program, we wanted to test the kids observation skills, but we wanted to do it sneakily (because we are like that). So, we enlisted a coworker to enter the room while the kids were studying their fingerprints and ask my coworker a question. She stayed for maybe 30 seconds and then left. After the kids had studied their prints and shared their findings with everyone, we asked them to describe the person who had come into the room. We explained that criminalists needed to have good observation skills at all times and this was how we were going to test theirs. The kids thought this was really cool, as we recorded their descriptions of our coworker and then had her re-enter the room. We compared their descriptions with her actual appearance. A very simple activity to highlight an important skill.
Sniff test: I found this experiment in a science book in our collection and thought it would be fun and easy for our program. My coworker and I gathered five different smells - rosemary, chocolate, coffee, curry, cinnamon - and made small sniff boxes (cardboard boxes we sealed with duct tape and then poked holes in the lids). I passed around one box at a time and instructed the kids to simply smell, no shaking or trying to peek (and no turning upside down!) and had them write down their guesses on detective notebooks we gave them. Unsurprisingly, curry was one of the difficult ones for them (I couldn't have told you what it was myself if I hadn't known). More surprisingly, coffee was another one they struggled with. Maybe their parents all drink tea. After everyone had smelled every box (plus an empty one we threw in there to throw them off) and Ms. M had tested her skills, too, I revealed the answers. They thought this was a really fun experiment.
And that was our program! I'd definitely consider it a success.