AAFS CSI Mini Camp and Forensic Lecture kick off 68th Annual Scientific Meeting


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In partnership with the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, AAFS held its seventh annual community outreach program Sunday, February 21, at the museum. The event included a CSI Mini Camp and Forensic Lecture which were attended by more than 550 community members who enjoyed a hands-on forensic experience.

AAFS members and members of the Clark County Coroner’s office and Las Vegas Metro Police Department provided a host of activities, introducing visitors to several forensic disciplines, from odontology and fingerprinting to facial reconstruction techniques, digital evidence evaluation, and DNA extraction.

Families enjoyed the tactile experiences and a chance to meet real forensic experts. One of the most popular stations allowed kids to actually participate in creating a facial reconstruction, where they applied clay to small plastic skulls. They also challenged themselves to analyze digital evidence by looking at a distorted photograph of a car license plate to see if they could determine the numbers and other identifying factors, such as the make and model of the car. Additionally, visitors were challenged with solving fingerprint puzzles.

Offering a chance for families to see actual crime scene vehicles was also popular. The Las Vegas Metro Police Department brought its major event response vehicle and K-9 Unit, and the Clark County Coroner’s Mass Fatality Vehicle was onsite, rounding out the experience.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, AAFS Past President and Media Liaison, moderated a panel of AAFS experts who provided insights regarding their respective fields. Presenters included John Gerns, AAFS President-Elect; Lisa Gaven, MD, Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner; Ken Melson, MS, JD, Adjunct Professor at George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC; and Jose Almirall, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida International University, Miami, FL. SAN_0604

Kids made buttons that included their fingerprints.

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Members of the Clark County Coroner’s office engaged kids with evidence while instructing them on the facial reconstruction process.

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The DNA station provided a hands-on experience where kids extracted DNA from strawberries.

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Attendee tries her hand at facial reconstruction.

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AAFS member Jeff Smith presented digital evidence at one of the hands-on workstations.

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Photos of bones uncovered at a crime scene were on display to show how evidence is often found.

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Las Vegas Police Department Crime scene vehicles were onsite for tours.