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CCSU trains teachers in ways of CSI

By Greg Gelpi

Sending an electric current through a gel matrix, the teachers measured DNA in an attempt to identify a criminal suspect.

Using techniques and procedures seen in high profile court cases and popularized by the hit television series CSI, high school teachers learned forensics at Clayton College & State University.

High school teachers from as far away as Saudi Arabia experienced a quick course in forensics, including ballistics, dental forensics and DNA fingerprinting.

"What we do with teachers is teach them how to run a crime forensics class," said Greg Hampikian, the Clayton State biology professor in charge of the program. "They do a lot of the procedures you would see on CSI. It's not as glamorous as people make it out be."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation takes on a crime scene using the same techniques as those demonstrated in the forensics clinic, he said.

"We're using actual techniques used in the best labs in the country," Hampikian said.

Biting down into a chocolate bar, participants compared their bite marks in a session about dental forensics.

Casey Morris, a Clayton State assistant professor of dental hygiene, said that dental records and dental evidence can provide identifying information for investigators.

Law enforcement identified serial killer Ted Bundy using dental forensics, Morris said. She added that about 90 percent of Americans go to a dentist and so many people have dental records.

Exposing the teachers to real world forensics techniques, the teachers will return to their classrooms to change their students from CSI watchers to CSI sleuths.

Although the teachers paid for the one day of training as part of the National Science Teachers Association, Georgia teachers will be paid to attend a week-long forensics training this summer, Hampikian said.