In May and June, Sherry, Sally, Nadine and I had the opportunity to provide three forensic outreach sessions to 3-5 year olds at three different schools in Hackney. All of us have had different experiences with outreach but none of us have worked with such a young age group, and we were aware that factors such as their attention spans and their vocabularies would affect how we delivered the sessions. We knew that we needed to make it simple but fun so that the children would stay interested, which is challenging when you are used to explaining your research to a more academic audience.
To start off, we briefly explained the process of investigating a crime (demonstrating the role of witnesses and searching for ‘clues’ to ‘catch the bad guy’) through different activities. We demonstrated the difficulty of being a witness by giving them an image to memorise for a minute and then asking what colours the different objects were. After which, we got them to try and link paw prints to different animals as a way of describing the theory behind footprints. To conclude, we wanted to find a memorable activity to inspire them so we used fluorescent powder to demonstrate the way trace evidence can transfer and persist; putting fluorescent powders on our hands and then shaking theirs. After we shook all their hands we turned off the lights and used a blue light to show them that even though evidence may be invisible to the naked eye, sometimes it can still be located.
I feel these activities were very successful with the children and that they were very enthusiastic and sometimes even amazed by them. I also found it thoroughly enjoyable and motivational – it was encouraging to see them so interested in forensic science and I hope that this encourages them to keep learning more about this subject area.