The Staten Island Tech Nutshell Studies: Using Content-Rich Project Based Learning in an Introductory Forensic Science Class
This paper presents a cumulative, content-rich, project-based learning experience for a college-level introductory forensic science course. The project was inspired by the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death created by Frances Glessner Lee in the 1930s. Students were required to create their own miniature crime scenes at a scale of one inch to one foot. They conducted research over extended periods of time, designed their scene using CAD or Revvit, wrote supporting documents based on their case scenario, gave Google Slides presentations, and constructed three-dimensional work products in the school’s makerspace. This project emphasized the essential “4 C’s” of 21st century global skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity; and culminated in a Science and Technology Showcase at the end of the school year. Caveats included time limitations due to short class periods and the use of a shared makerspace. The students gained in-depth knowledge of crime scene analysis and death investigation, and were highly engaged throughout the process.