Fun with Forensics

Exciting new hands-on workshop series introduces teens to the many facets of crime scene investigations. Local scientist & STEM advocate brings modern mystery-solving to Mt Airy.

For most of us, the word “forensics” calls to mind images of morgues and autopsies,  but the field is actually way more than dead bodies. Antoinette T. Campbell – aka “Forenzik Chik” – hasn’t crossed paths with many corpses in her 17+ years with the Philadelphia Police Department’s Chemistry Unit. Most of her time was spent in a lab, analyzing samples for the presence (or absence) of controlled substances.

She loved the casework, the creative thinking, and brushing shoulders with many innovative, collaborative professionals in various fields. Every day presented surprising discoveries and new puzzles for her team to unlock. Her passion for her career grew.

In 2010, she founded the Association for Women in Forensic Science to support, network, and inspire other women in the industry. Club Philly Forensics, an off-shoot of AWIFS, gives girls and boys (aged 12 -18) hands-on investigative experience through the drama of “real” (mock) crime scenarios. This fall’s 10-workshop series, Beyond Crime Scenes and Autopsies, goes behind the yellow tape to find clues and piece together evidence from a scientific perspective.

In addition to the latest crime scene investigation practices, students will learn about Forensic Serology, Firearms Examination, Forensic Drug & DNA Analysis, Digital Forensics, and more. Classes are led by local experts motivated to help young people become better researchers, problem solvers, and independent thinkers.

Photo credit Antoinette Campbell via AWIFS’s Facebook page

Parental Discretion Advised  Some of the material covers sensitive topics and crime-related terminology (eg guns, drugs, bodily fluids, etc). “Students get exposed to the dark side of the world where crime can change our lives in a second,” Antoinette explained, “Young people need to know the realities of crime and how suddenly and drastically it can affect you or a loved one.”  At registration, parents/guardians sign a permission slip detailing the specifics.

On a brighter note, Forensics is also about career opportunities! With a bachelor’s degree, you can qualify for an entry-level position with a good salary and on-the-job training in most cases. For Antoinette, the field is wide-open for more women and people of color. Through AWIFS and Club Philly Forensics, she aims to encourage more black kids to take advantage of STEAM programs that can prepare them for futures in forensics, engineering, and technology.

BEYOND CRIME SCENES & AUTOPSIES (Saturday Workshop Series)
10/20/18 – 3/2019, 10am – 12pm
Grace Epiphany Church, 224 E. Gowen Ave 19119 (on-street parking available). (MAP)
Ten workshops including refreshments/lunch, plus a free Club Philly Forensics t-shirt. Fee: $156.25/month (4 payments).

3 Q’s with Philly Forenzik Chik:

  1. Is there a “creepy” stigma, when you work in Forensic Science? People assume I have a morbid sense of humor, and working in the field you tend to not be surprised by heinous crimes that some people are oblivious to. I don’t think I own anything that’s creepy, and prefer to read about science and criminal justice. I do enjoy watching Forensic Files, though!
  2. Is Halloween a weird time of year in the Forensics field? Not really. I don’t celebrate Halloween, but in the past I’ve been a part of several murder mystery events. People love to solve the crime and act like a detective!
  3. Do you ever worry that by teaching kids how to investigate a crime scene, one of them will use this knowledge to plan the perfect crime?! Good question! My hopes are that the information makes them more aware of violence and drugs so they’re more likely to resist that path in life. I also want kids to stay safe out there.
Watch Forenzik Chik’s “We the People” video for Philly.com here!

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