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Bay Path Forensic Science Students Bring It On: STEM is Glam!

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Since 2014, the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) has
been holding a Geek Is Glam STEM Expo. This annual day-long interactive
STEM conference is for middle school girls (grades 4-8) and takes place on the
campus of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Their goal is simple: give young
girls access to some of the region’s top scientific and engineering minds inspiring
them in turn to pursue careers in STEM.

Bay Path has been part of the Geek is Glam since 2018 (2020 and 2021 the event
was not held). This year, eight Bay Path Forensic Science students ran the CSI
Massachusetts workshops: Sam Giacalone ’26, Val Alcaraz ’26, Dakota Hanley
’24, Sage Needham’25, Francine Rojas’24, Arlene Monterola’23, Marisa
Harris’25, and Quelenna Keller’24.

There were two sessions with 20 young Girl Scouts eager to learn the ins and outs
of CSI. Our Bay Path students gave them a challenge with “A Dinner Disaster.”

According to Forensic Science Honor Society President Quelenna Keller, the
workshops were exciting both for the Girls Scouts and the Bay Path “scientists."

“We decided to make it something they could relate to, so we chose characters
from Harry Potter: Lavender, Crabbe and Goyle. We designed it so Lavender and
Crabbe were close. Then, Lavender was a victim of a stabbing. The girls had to
figure out who was in the room. Who did it? Goyle was there when he wasn’t
supposed to be, and he lied about it. Then, Lavender woke up and recanted
everything that was said. They had to use the evidence and critical thinking to
determine who was there. Our two techniques we used were fingerprinting and
presumptive testing. This test determines if there is something is there—it’s
relying on science.

For this test, we took an unusual approach. We set up test tubes filled with lemon
juice. The Girl Scouts would swab the area with a Q-Tip and put the Q-Tip in the
lemon juice. By shaking it, the theoretical DNA would be suspended, and then using Ph paper, they would see if there was a color change, which would indicate if there was DNA.

“Throughout the sessions, they had lots of questions. Not just about the experiments but what it was like at college. This gave them a real insight into what forensics is all about. In fact, we structured the workshop so the girls had to ask questions.

“Our Bay Path forensic team felt we met our and the event’s goals by having them
exposed to forensics while spiking their interest in science.”

It was a learning experience for all. Dr. Sandra Haddad, Associate Professor of
Biology and Forensic Science had this to say about day: “Watching our Bay Path
Forensic Science students share their knowledge with young women interested in
science was wonderfully rewarding and humbling.  They connected with the young
workshop attendees with humor, patience, and a great sense of fun.  It is an honor
to work with these wonderful Bay Path students.”