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High schoolers test out their "CSI" skills

LA CROSSE, Wis. –- High school senior Rebekah Goelzer is trying to solve a murder.

"I don't get grossed out easily," said Goelzer.

Granted, it's a murder that Viterbo University faculty made up as part of their sixth-annual Exploring Science through Forensics program.

"We have somebody who's discovered a body on a farm. It turns out that the body's been there for a while, probably four or five years," said Viterbo Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division Coordinator Ward Jones, who heads up the program.

The program gives 100 high school students the opportunity to solve that murder with "CSI" skills. In fact, shows like "CSI" have gotten many of these students interested in forensics in the first place.


"Well, everybody likes the 'CSI' shows on television, right?... I think this gives them a taste of what it's really like to do some of that. Sometimes the shows are a little bit unrealistic in how they're depicted, but it gives them a strong sense of what it's really like to be a scientist in a forensics lab and what kinds of things they'll be doing," said Jones..

"I started watching the 'CSI' shows, the cop shows. Even though me and my mom laugh at how inaccurate they are, like how they collect evidence without gloves or anything and they just pick it up. And it's just like, 'No, that's not how you do it!'" said Goelzer.

The techniques Goelzer is learning today are skills she hopes to use in her career some day. She wants to be a homicide detective.

"Blood spatter is kind of cool. I brought along a book today that's about it," said Goelzer.

As students learn how to do DNA fingerprinting, chemical analysis and suspect interview analysis, they're getting a better idea of what a career in forensics would really be like instead of what it's like on television.

"I was really excited for this, and plus I got off school, so it's all good. But it's extra learning for my career, so when I go to college, I'll know what I'm getting myself into," said Goelzer.

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