From murder to car theft, criminal activities plotted by bright young school students will be solved by dozens of their peers, at a unique immersive science camp in northern NSW this week.
Starting tomorrow (1 July) the five day, 17th annual Forensic Science Camp at The Armidale School (TAS), has this year attracted 77 boys and girls who attend 28 different state and independent schools, in cities and country towns, in three states and territories.
The camp was first held in 1994 and attracted widespread interest after featuring on the former ABC TV science show Quantum. It is acknowledged as a leading academic enrichment opportunity for gifted and talented students in Year 8 (NSW) and Year 9 (Queensland), and interest remains strong, no doubt due to the continuing popularity of forensic and crime shows on television.
For the camp, participants are divided into groups and then solve fictitious felonies using a range of forensic techniques, including microscopy, chromatography, fingerprint analysis, cryptography and general science. They analyse the evidence, identify and interview the suspects, order medical and scientific tests and search criminal databases. On the final day, teams present their committal cases to a local magistrate, who determines if they are strong enough to go before a court.
The camp is largely run by older students who have previously taken part – some developing the crime scenarios, some managing the event itself. Camp Director Angus Lloyd, a Year 10 student at TAS attending his third camp, has been working on this year’s event with a team of others, since last year’s camp wrapped up.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of emailing between those developing the scenarios, others who run the event itself, and with the new ‘campers’ who will be coming for the first time,” he said.
Others taking leadership roles at their third camp are Sam Cass from Sydney Grammar School and Sophie Jaggar, from Sydney Girls’ High, which has the most participants at this year’s camp.
“It is such a unique event, being practically run by kids who solve crimes developed by others,” Sophie believes.
Sam agrees: “The campers are largely left to their own devices in how they solve their crime. It’s great for building independent thinking, learning to deal with others, and leadership,” he said.