UCF Chemistry Students Share Skills with Boy Scouts

One group of students was hard at work studying for finals – but also put aside time to share knowledge with the community.

Cristina Rinella, president of the Forensic Science Association at UCF, was studying for finals when she received an email from the UCF Chemistry Department asking for volunteers to attend the Boy Scout Jamboree. Although she was busy, she knew this was a great opportunity.

“The event was meant to get the boy scouts involved and interested in STEM-related activities. As we do a STEM Day at UCF, the officers of Forensic Science Association figured it would be a good opportunity to participate in an event we are familiar with a new audience,” Rinella said.

The group of students sets up three activities for attendees to interact with.  The blood presumptive activity uses a few different chemicals to find out if a substance is blood or not. The fingerprinting taught the three major categories of fingerprints and allowed the boy scouts to take and analyze their own prints. As for the mock crime scene, the boy scouts learned how to analyze evidence and tried to determine what happened.

“The fingerprinting activity was the biggest hit, and it was really neat to see everyone so interested, kids and adults, alike,” Rinella said.

Rinella says that popular crime television shows often misconstrue what forensic scientists do. For example, when characters are able to pull up a person’s file, all of the data magically appears. This is not true for forensics work, and outreach is a great way to combat misconceptions.

“It really was a great opportunity for our club members to bring their knowledge into the community and for the audience to learn about forensic science since it is a commonly misunderstood field,” she said.

Learn more about the UCF Department of Chemistry’s forensic science track.

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