IT was a hive of criminal activity, but for Gympie student Rosie Dittmar, being involved in murder, drugs and sabotage was the perfect way to start the July school holidays.
Rosie was the one of 80 students from as far away as Canberra and Gympie, who attended the 15th annual forensic science camp at The Armidale School (TAS), held from June 26 to 30. The camp was first held in 1994 and attracted widespread interest after featuring on the former ABC TV science show Quantum.
It is acknowledged as a leading academic enrichment opportunity for gifted and talented students.
Boys and girls, from both government and independent schools in the city and country, were divided into groups of four "detectives".
They then set out to solve fictitious felonies using a range of forensic techniques, including microscopy, chromatography, fingerprint analysis, cryptography and general science. They analysed the evidence, identified and interviewed suspects, ordered medical and scientific tests and searched criminal databases. On the final day of the camp, a local magistrate conducted a "court case" in which the teams had the chance to convict their suspect.
The scenarios are developed by former participants who lead the camp.
Scenarios use procedures including blood typing, fibre testing and soil analysis to solve a range of crimes, from theft to vandalism and murder.
Flying in from Detroit for his 11th camp was former TAS student Andrew Patterson, now an IT consultant. "Certainly technology has evolved significantly since my first camp in 2001 and it has been great to watch how new technologies are being integrated into the camp each year," Andrew said.
"I always enjoy returning to see what new crimes have been created, and seeing bright kids working on incredibly difficult problems over several days. I'm always delighted to see the deep satisfaction that campers have at the end of the camp and know that they benefited from the truly unique experience that the camp offers."