Close to 500 Girl Scouts, many perhaps future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers went hands-on as they explored a wide range of careers at the Girl Scouts of Orange County STEM Consortium at Cal State Fullerton.
Forensic scientists from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab were on hand to interest the Girl Scouts in a crime fighting career that doesn’t involve a gun and handcuffs but plays a vital role in solving crime just the same.
The OC Crime Lab collects and analyzes physical evidence from crime scenes and was the first local law enforcement DNA lab in the Western United States, as well as the first in the state to provide an automated fingerprint collection system.
“I think it is important for young girls to know what kind of opportunities there are for them, and math and science is fascinating,” said Vanessa Meneses, one of several forensic scientists from the OC Crime Lab at the consortium. “I love to share my love for the field with other girls, and maybe we can interest someone in what we do and start a new generation of girls leading the future. We usually get a few who are very interested. Last year we had a girl … she knew as much about the field as I do.”
The scouts tried some of the tasks performed by forensic scientists at crime scenes and in the lab. They took fingerprints, tested materials for the presence of blood and narcotics, and calculated the epicenter of paint spatter on a wall.
All of the items could provide crucial evidence at a crime scene.
“I think it’s pretty inspiring,” said Girl Scout Ava Warren, 13, from Troop 2691 in Huntington Beach. “It’s cool how they could tell how when they throw something on a wall, they can tell the epicenter and what the impact was. It’s pretty cool.”
Anastasia Levemets, 13, also from Troop 2691, discovered that she has a rare type of fingerprint.
“I usually see a lot of this stuff on TV on shows like Forensic Files,” Levemets said. “It’s interesting to see it in real life. I’ve thought of doing it.”
Michelle Chew, who was a chaperone for Troop 2525 from Irvine, said the OC Crime Lab display gave girls a realistic experience in an area of law enforcement they don’t normally see.
“I think it’s a great,” Chew said. “We live in Irvine. It’s known as the safest city in America. So I think it’s great how they learn about the different aspects of how law enforcement works and how they are able to understand that if there was a crime, how would they be able to go about solving it. There is a whole scientific aspect to it. I think it’s wonderful.”