The Physical Sciences Department hosted two week long summer camps that taught 39 West Michigan high school students the basics of forensic chemistry and how it is used to solve an arson crime. The camps, which were in part sponsored by the National Science Foundation under TUES Grant number 1140509, allowed the students to use GRCC’s advanced instrumentation to carry out the analysis of different types of evidence and then use the evidence to solve a simulated arson crime. Along with using the College’s atomic absorption spectrophotometer to analyze soil samples and gel electrophoresis equipment to analyze DNA, the students used the newly acquired gas chromatograph –mass spectrometer to analyze materials that could be used to accelerate a fire. In addition to the hands on experience, Officer Dale Dekorte and his canine partner, Ritzey, from the Kent County Sheriff’s Office showed the students how canines are used to help investigators and scientists solve arson crimes.
A number of staff and faculty worked to make the camp a success including Pam Scott, Leah VanHartesveldt, E. Yasmine Walton-Durst, David Greening, Wayne Bickel (Ottawa Hills HS), Eric Pilko, Julie Henderleiter (GVSU), Tom Neils, Bernard Liburd and Jennifer Batten.