In an effort to inspire young scientists to discover real-world applications of statistics while promoting inclusiveness in the STEM fields, CSAFE led a two-day workshop for middle school students involved in the Forensic Academy for Students and Teachers (FAST) on June 7 and 8, 2018 at Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville, Georgia. The FAST program is part of STEMversity, a non-profit organization established to provide state of the art, hands on STEM training to under-represented students in middle school through undergraduate school, as well as to professionals. CSAFE partnered with STEMversity to offer opportunities for exploration of the sciences and encourage excitement in areas of study that have historically lacked diversity.
Approximately 15 students participated in the event, with the majority being middle school age. Students had hands-on learning experiences with statistical concepts, including sampling, graphing both categorical and numerical variables, and learning about how the rarity of traits in a population can be taken into account when considering the weight of forensic evidence. Students also engaged with forensic pattern evidence, such as powder printing shoes, inking fingerprints, and investigating forged handwriting. During these activities students generated their own pieces of evidence and at the end of the two-day experience, students were challenged in groups to use that evidence to create a fake crime. Finally, each group attempted to solve the other groups’ crimes which included completing pattern comparisons on fingerprints and handwriting as well as applying the newly learned statistical concepts of rarity, sampling and weight of evidence.