Larbert class use CSI skills to catch a killer

Dr Johanne Matheson secured funding to purchase CSI kits for Larbert High School
Dr Johanne Matheson secured funding to purchase CSI kits for Larbert High School

Pupils are getting hands on experience using the latest DNA testing equipment as part of their science studies thanks to a grant won by a teacher.

Dr Johanne Matheson applied to the Royal Society for the money to buy the crime scene investigation kits to be used by her Higher biology pupils at Larbert High School.

With the backing of Professor Gwyn Gould from the University of Glasgow she managed to get the £3000 total needed.

Now the Royal Society has invited her to speak at the Science on Stage conference in London in June to highlight best teaching practice.

Dr Matheson, who lives in Falkirk, has been teaching at Larbert High for five years after leaving her job as a research fellow at Glasgow University.

She said: “The application was a long process and we had to prove it would bring higher education and industry into the lessons.

“Getting the equipment has been fantastic, it gives the youngsters hands on experience, which is essential to them properly understanding the process.”

As part of the Curriculum for Excellence, all Higher Biology pupils study DNA and its use in investigating crime.

Dr Matheson and Prof Gould set up a murder scene, telling pupils rector Jon Reid was dead and leaving them to use the clues, such as fingerprints and hair samples, to catch the killer.

Chelsea Polson (16) is a fifth year pupil and her class was the first to use the equipment.

She said: “Using the CSI kits was great. We did the theory before the practical work and I struggled to get my head around it. But once we used the kits, it became much easier to understand.”

Dr Matheson is the only teacher from Scotland to be invited to attend the conference and she will deliver her findings to the best science educators from Europe and Canada.