Pacific Academy Grade 12 biology students Nicholas Chen and Joshua Lee prepare to separate DNA from a Kiwi.

Crime scene science comes to school

Genome BC Geneskool gives Surrey students a hands-on understanding of DNA

For Matt Williams, flying coast to coast for business was a weekly event for the busy sales executive.

Working for a high-profile advertising agency, Williams had a habit of working in his seat throughout the flight, often speaking loudly to himself and at times becoming rude and confrontational.

During a recent flight from Vancouver to New York City, Williams was found dead in the bathroom of the airplane. His throat had been slashed and a broken piece of glass covered in blood was found on the floor near his body.

Although the plane was full, no one heard any signs of a struggle.

This is the fictional scenario that was presented to Grade 12 science students at Pacific Academy in Surrey recently through the Genome BC Geneskool, sponsored by Genome BC Let’s Talk Science, a program designed to create passion and motivation for science in high school students.

Throughout the class, students explored DNA structure, its function and ways to decipher evidence and use crime scene investigative (CSI) techniques to solve the murder mystery.

Led by UBC graduate and Let’s Talk Science volunteer Tianna Koreman, the students were given clues found at the scene along with a list of possible suspects to determine motive and to find the killer.

“I learned about Let’s Talk Science while taking a biology class last year,” said Koreman. “So I signed up and now have volunteered around the province.

First the students needed to determine the blood type found on the broken piece of mirror, as well as the blood type of each of the people at the murder scene.

Once the blood types were determined, the students began to eliminate possible suspects that didn’t match either the blood type found on the mirror or on the victim.

Working in groups, the students were then given a kiwi fruit and using salt, soap and ethanol, were able to extract DNA from the kiwi as an example of how DNA would be extracted from human cells.

After determining the DNA of the suspects in the scenario, the students then matched that DNA with the blood and evidence found at the crime scene.

Based on all the evidence collected, the students were able to determine that a passenger named Rob had committed the murder, since both his blood type and DNA matched the blood found at the scene.

While crushing the kiwi in order to break down the cells and extract the DNA, Grade 12 students Nicholas Chen and Joshua Lee felt the program was very appealing.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Chen about the class. “I want to go into policing and criminology so I found this very interesting.

The Genome BC Geneskool program has been active in B.C. for almost a decade, with the goal of introducing students to the unique world of genomics and genetics using activities not currently encompassed in the current school curriculum.

“I don’t think we can underestimate the need to promote science to the next generation,” said Dr. Alan Winter, president and CEO of Genome BC Geneskool.

For more information on the program, go to





Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

Surrey’s two largest hotels are now closed due to COVID-19; room bookings plummet elsewhere

Guildford’s 77-room Four Points property remains open with ‘minimum amount of business,’ GM says

Some Surrey landlords ‘kicking out’ businesses that can’t make rent

Surrey Board of Trade CEO suspects situation will be worse in May

UPDATE: Catalytic converters stolen from four ambulances being repaired in Delta

The thefts were reported on March 31, and police say they have no suspects at this time

First Nations, remote communities need special attention in pandemic, Freeland says

Health-care workers, seniors, Indigenous Peoples some of people most at risk, health officials say

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Call before you dig into spring projects during isolation: BC 1 Call

BC 1 Call gives free checks for utilities in the area of a desired outdoor project

B.C.’s intersection speed cameras putting more tickets in the mail

One Nanaimo location delayed after speed limit reduced

Update: Coquihalla re-opens, after incident requiring a medevac

DriveBC warns of continued delays and congestion

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

Most Read