CSI:Norwich - Part 1

Hi everyone!

For this blog post, I'll be writing about the second event coordinated by BSA Norwich during the Norwich Science Festival (21st - 29th October). This event was called CSI:Norwich and focused on forensics and how science can be used to solve crimes!

CSI:Norwich took place on the 25th October in The Forum and was primarily targeted towards families with kids ages 8+ (although we made the event as accessible as possible for younger audiences). We set the scene for the event by introducing a fictional murder which took place in Norwich...

Caspar Cream, the conductor of orchestral group "Sound of Science", was found dead at 1:30pm in The Forum. He was hit on the head with his music stand during the lunch break of rehearsals for a special performance at the Norwich Science Festival. Six members of the orchestral group each had a reason to hate him, and none of them have an alibi for the entire lunch break - their names are Simone Scarlett, Amelia Skye, Eleanor Silver, Jack Emerald, Luca Violetti and Marcus Lemon.

...then tasked visitors with working out who committed the crime.

For the event, we transformed part of The Forum Gallery into a crime scene (complete with mugshots of the suspects and a fake body!) and used the rest of the space as a scientific investigation area where visitors could perform a variety of simple experiments. There were a total of five activity stalls and one suspect was eliminated at each stall to eventually reveal the identity of the killer!

Activity #1: Fingerprinting

The first stall involved an assessment of fingerprints which were found on the murder weapon. Visitors were first shown how to identify fingerprint patterns, such as loops (numbers 1 and 3 below), arches (number 2 below) and whorls (a pattern of spirals or concentric circles), then asked to compare those found on the murder weapon to those collected from the suspects. If the fingerprints did not match then it was possible to eliminate that suspect from the investigation. Visitors could also analyse their own fingerprints using a fine powder which adheres to latent fingerprints left on a flat and clean surface. The dusted fingerprints could then be lifted from the surface using sticky tape and taken away as a memento.

Activity #2: Pen Chromatography

The second stall focused on using chromatography to distinguish between different black marker pens owned by the suspects, one of which could have been used to write a threatening note discovered on the victim's body! The ink used to write the note was found to smear in water to give different colours, meaning that visitors could eliminate somebody from the investigation if their pen did not smear in the same way. Pen chromatography was performed by drawing a circle at the bottom of some filter paper with each of the pens, resting the filter paper in a plastic tray, and then adding a few drops of water to the bottom of the tray. After about 30 seconds, distinct smearing patterns could be seen as the water dissolved certain chemicals in the inks and carried them up the filter paper.

I think I'll finish this blog post here - next time I'll complete this update about the CSI:Norwich event with a summary of the three remaining science activities!

As always, if you have any thoughts or feedback regarding events, social media activity and blog posts from BSA Norwich then we'd love to hear from you! Also, please get in contact if you'd like to volunteer. :)