A group of students from Thurston Middle School in Laguna Beach recently conducted a mock crime-scene investigation based on one of America’s most infamous criminal justice cases — the Salem witch trials.
The young investigators, who are enrolled in Thurston’s forensic crime class and club, worked with five Laguna Beach Police Department detectives on March 21 to gather grisly evidence from nearby Alta Laguna Park, which doubled for Gallows Hill in Salem, Mass., circa 1692.
As the Orange County Register reports, the middle schoolers discovered three “bodies” that showed definite signs of foul play, along with skeletal remains that were partially buried and covered in ashes.
“Working with the police, they see firsthand what it’s like,” teacher Michelle Martinez told the Register. “They also see it’s tiring and hard work.”
According to the newspaper, Thurston’s forensics program received $5,000 in grant funding through a Cox Communications initiative that helps advance science and technology in schools.
Here are some additional education stories from the very newsy week that ended March 29:
- Waving American flags, students and staff from University High School in Irvine staged a surprise celebration to welcome back Assistant Principal Kris Kough, who as a U.S. Army National Guard colonel spent 10 months in Afghanistan.
- Public school enrollment in Orange County has declined for the eighth straight year, according to figures just released by the state Department of Education. The trend, which mirrors statewide figures, has been attributed to the high cost of living and other factors.
- Fifty students representing a dozen local high schools vied for $30,000 in college scholarships at the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association’s 26th annual Automotive Technology Competition. The event was held at Hyundai’s headquarters.
- Fullerton Union High’s Biology Engineering Arts Science Technology program, or BEAST, teaches students how they can use science to bring movie-like figures — including zombies — to real life. The goal is to encourage young people to think differently about science.
- Irvine’s Woodbridge High School earned a top-10 finish at the California Academic Decathlon after securing its third-straight Orange County championship in February. Granada Hills Charter School from Los Angeles took first place in the state contest and will represent California next month.
- OCDE’s Pacific Coast High School has become a mock trial powerhouse, reaching the county championship two of the last three years. But there’s a lot more to the Tustin-based, independent-study school than competitive courtroom battles. The OCDE Newsroom has compiled a list of six things you might not know about PCHS.
- Nearly 200 districts from across the state have reconfigured their school boards so that trustees are elected from specific geographic areas rather than their districts at-large. The goal is to improve representation within diverse communities.
- Exhibits documenting shark behavior, underwater volcanoes and the mechanical advantages of pulleys were among the projects on display during this week’s CHEP Expo, which showcased the work of students enrolled in OCDE’s homeschooling program.
- Students and families gathered at Marina High on Saturday for the Huntington Beach Union High School District’s annual STEAM Expo, based on the theme “A Brighter Tomorrow.” The Daily Pilot has a gallery of photos.
- JPL scientists and members of the Los Angeles-area tech community showcased science and technology for students and parents at the L.A. Convention Center as part of a partnership between the L.A. Clippers and the USA Science & Engineering Festival.
- The Los Angeles Times reports that some small school districts have looked to resolve their financial problems by approving certain kinds of charter schools and charging them for services.
- Discipline outcomes vary significantly among Asian and Pacific Islander subgroups, according to a study presented by researchers from UCLA, the University of Washington and Lewis & Clark College in Oregon.
- Raymond Temple Elementary School was one of 18 schools in the country recognized this year as a School of TechXcellence by District Administration magazine. The campus, administered by the Centralia School District, encourages its educators to expand their tech skills through an online learning platform.
- Thousands of local third-, fourth- and fifth-graders descended upon UC Irvine’s Aldrich Park to learn about the importance of protecting California’s water supplies during the 23rd annual Children’s Water Education Festival. The event, chronicled in a Daily Pilot photo gallery, was organized by the Fountain Valley-based Orange County Water District, the Disneyland Resort, the National Water Research Institute and the OCWD Groundwater Guardian Team.
- Protesters on Thursday rallied outside the state Capitol to speak out against a state law requiring comprehensive sex education and a proposed Health Education Framework intended to offer guidance for teachers and administrators.
- In the wake of the national college admissions scandal, California lawmakers are proposing increased oversight and reform measures that could limit the influence of money and alumni connections.
- A study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University confirms that students who have to travel to school through unsafe areas are more likely to be absent.