The Physical Sciences Department hosted two week-long summer camps that taught 32 West Michigan high school students the basics of forensic chemistry and how it is used to solve arsons.
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. Along with using the college’s atomic absorption spectrophotometer to analyze soil samples and gel electrophoresis equipment to analyze DNA, the students used the gas chromatograph –mass spectrometer to analyze materials that could be used to accelerate a fire. In addition to the hands on experience, Deputy Dale Dekorte and his canine partner, Ritzey, from the Kent County Sheriff’s Department showed the students how canines are used to help investigators and scientists solve arsons.
A number of students, staff and faculty worked to make the camp a success, including Pam Scott, Leah VanHartesveldt, Shannon Gamel, Nick Emery, Greg Schmidt, Annette Dobrzynski, Julie Henderleiter (GVSU), Bernard Liburd, and Jennifer Batten.