Airdate: Dec 21, 2009
Scientist: Mo Lupia
Kids' Science Challenge: Forensics - Detective Science
Real-world forensic investigations can be exciting, but it's quite different from what we're exposed to on TV.
ML: Very often people will ask me questions that are really based on what theyâ€™ve seen on television. There are similarities, but the real world is different; weâ€™re not able to get an answer within that one-hour time thatâ€™s allotted for the typical television show.
JM: Mo Lupia is not an actor playing the part of a detective. Heâ€™s the real thing a forensic investigator with the Wallie Howard Jr. Center for Forensic Sciences in Syracuse, New York. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Armed with gloves, tweezers, fingerprint powder and evidence bags, Lupiaâ€™s job is to survey a crime scene, and then to carefully collect the evidence.
ML: You have to be careful that you donâ€™t leave evidence behind or mix items in with the evidence thatâ€™s going to distort your findings later on. If youâ€™re at an accident scene, very often thereâ€™s sharp objects that you need to be very careful when youâ€™re around. Thereâ€™s also biological substances that can be dangerous. So, you have to be very alert when youâ€™re at a scene.
JM: If youâ€™d like to pursue Mo Lupiaâ€™s line of work, youâ€™ll want to brush up on your math and science skills, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.
ML: There have been times when Iâ€™ve gotten to a scene, and as soon as I get to the scene, there are people from the local fire department handing me rappelling gear and telling me I have to rappel down a cliff to go and examine the scene. There are other times where Iâ€™m conducting an investigation that has occurred in a maximum-security prison, and Iâ€™ve spent all day in that prison. You never know where youâ€™re going to be or what youâ€™re going to be doing when you go to work on a particular day.
JM: Mo Lupia is a participant in this yearâ€™s Kidsâ€™ Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders, made possible by the National Science Foundation. Go to kidsciencechallenge.com. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.