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Middle schoolers get hands-on look at forensic science

By Lauren Maxwell 8:14 PM June 12, 2014

Investigating crime scenes may sound like an exciting job, at least on television, but how close are shows like NCSI and CSI to real life?

Some local middle schoolers are getting a chance to find out this week at the Alaska Forensic Science Camp.

On Thursday, campers toured the Alaska crime lab. They got a chance to process crime scenes, collect evidence and see how real forensic scientists work. Jen Maryanopolis works at the lab, she said television shows often give the impression that crimes can be solved in an hour.

“They think that we know who a suspect is right away, that we can get it in 45 minutes,” said Maryanopolis. “In reality is takes 4 to 6 weeks when I start a case in DNA at the lab for a report to get sent out, then I have to go to court. I am going to court on cases that I worked on in 2011.”

Maryanopolis said another misconception is that scientists who work behind the scenes get to do it all.

“They think we get to go to crime scenes and I get the gun and I get a badge and I get to interview the suspects,” said Maryanopolis. “ I don’t get to do all that fun stuff, I get to literally sit in the lab with my facemask on and my lab coat.”

Maryanopolis said television shows like CSI do give some good information and they seem to be attracting new interest to the profession. Several campers who finished their crime lab tour on Thursday said they would definitely consider a career in forensic science.

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