Bacon Academy faculty combine classic literature with modern forensic science

By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Wed., Jul. 27, 2011
Library Media specialist Linda Marchisio (left) and Forensic Science teacher Mary Rose Katuzney with copies of the the Sherlock Holmes book purchased with funds received through a Jan Stauber Grant from the Beacon Society.  Photo by Kevin Hotary.
Library Media specialist Linda Marchisio (left) and Forensic Science teacher Mary Rose Katuzney with copies of the the Sherlock Holmes book purchased with funds received through a Jan Stauber Grant from the Beacon Society. Photo by Kevin Hotary.

When Bacon Academy Library Media Specialist Linda Marchisio approached forensic science teacher Mary Rose Katuzney with an idea for a collaborative grant application, Katuzney jumped at the chance. What better idea could there be to tie forensics together with reading, than the tales of Sherlock Holmes.

Marchisio and Katuzney recently received a Jan Stauber Grant through the Beacon Society, which seeks to promote literacy and educational experiences for students through the stories of Sherlock Holmes. The funds were used to buy copies of “The Hounds of the Baskervilles” and other Holmes-related books, with the goal of enhancing the school's science curriculum by incorporating the works into the forensic science course.

The grant “is designed to be a literacy grant, plus a grant that exposes more people to Sherlock Holmes,” said Marchisio.

“The kids all know the deer-stalker cap, the cape and the pipe. They know the pictorial icon. But they don’t know the literature,” she said - a fact that was somewhat surprising, given the area's connection with the Holmes persona. (Gillette's Castle, in East Haddam, was home to the late William Gillette, who adapted Sherlock Holmes for Broadway in 1899 and is best known for portraying Holmes on the stage.)

While the tie-in is still something of a work in progress, Katuzney said that she will start with a basic literary study of the book and the world in the time of Holmes, with particular attention to the state of forensic science.  Students will then do a project, creating, for example, online posters based on Holmes that encourage other kids to read the stories.

The projects will “be built upon the student’s interest and what they want to create as a product at the end,” said Marchisio.

“The literacy connection has always been a goal here at Bacon Academy, to get students reading and working on vocabulary.  So this really was a good connection in the sense that we’re promoting the goal of literacy, but also making connections to science in the real world,” said Katuzney.  

In her laboratory-intensive class, students (who can receive college credit), “look at how forensics has changed since the ancient Chinese thousands of years ago to how it’s evolved to what we have today,” said Katuzney, pointing to current forensic techniques like hair and fiber analysis, DNA fingerprinting and bone forensics.

“To put the two things [Holmes and forensics] together just seemed to fit,” said Katuzney.


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