Last week, fifth-graders at Freedom Area Middle School in Beaver County investigated a grisly murder in the name of the law -- and science.
The faux-homicide was part of the school's third CSI Day, aimed at helping students understand the science behind crime scene investigation.
"It's problem solving," said middle school Principal Darlene Corris. "They actually had the autonomy to go through and look at the evidence they collected. ... To me, it's that real-world connection."
With the help of New Sewickley Township police Officer Dan Swab, students collected fingerprints and examined other evidence from the "scene," then conducted interviews with six suspects, made up of district staff members and teachers. A freshman at the high school played the victim.
"It just gave them a whole new idea of how law enforcement works," said township police Officer Tom Liberty, who was named the district's first specially trained school resource officer in January.
The students then created a presentation of their findings. One group successfully identified the suspect, and Officer Liberty "was there to scoop in and make the arrest."
The events also included a chat with Beaver County District Attorney Anthony Berosh, a police dog demonstration and a tour of an armored tactical vehicle.