Of Mice and Matter: Crime Scene Investigation

This coming fall, Bellevue College will once again offer “INTER 110 – Of Mice and Matter: Crime Scene Investigation.” The class is a combination of general biology and introduction to chemistry, combined with anthropology through a focus on crime scene investigation.

Crime scene graphic - C

“Biology and chemistry are sort of the meat of the class, and that’s the primary reason students take the class – to get their biology and chemistry requirements out of the way,” said Anthony Tessandori, the professor of anthropology and one of the three instructors of the class.

Despite the fulfillment of these science requirements being the main goal of the class, that’s not what makes it fun for Sue Miller, another of the course’s instructors and the head of its biology component.

“What makes it fun is that we can integrate the biology and chemistry together under this umbrella of this crime scene analysis, which I hope helps the students feel more connected to those things that they are learning. Sometimes as a student the things you learn feel very abstract.” This class is designed to combat that, Miller said. “You get to talk about dead bodies and that’s more fun than talking about it in a dry way.”

The instructors agree that their principle goal in designing the class was to get all elements to flow together in a fun and engaging way, as well as to get students working with each other. “The way we’ve designed the class is to be as integrated as you can get,” Tessandori said. “We do a lot of group learning, the outcomes and student process of learning is much better experiencing it this way than experiencing each class individually. We spend a lot of time together, but I think the outcomes are better, and it’s a really rewarding and beneficial process.”

Some specific features of the class in the past have been a staged crime scene, making the students combine chemistry and biology skills to answer questions. Some problems presented in the class include using chemistry to find out how old a bone is or using anthropology to see what a body looks like after it has been in a lake for a certain number of days.

This will be the third year that the class has been offered in its crime scene investigation format. However, “Of Mice and Matter” has been around for longer, just with different focuses, such as nutrition. The instructors hope that the class will stick around for many years to come, and that it will keep its current crime scene investigation format. “Students have generally appreciated the way we have structured the class,” Tessandori said.

Sue Miller agreed, and remarked that she particularly enjoys the current format of the class. “Tony basically said he’ll teach until we won’t let him any more,” she said. Miller also said that she really enjoys Tessandori’s contribution, and says that the current format of the class is one of the most fun and engaging they’ve had.

The class will meet daily in the S building from 9:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. and will run until 1:20 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.