Criminology Interest Group Students Investigate CSI Through Field Trip

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Education, Field Trip, Interest Groups, Middle School

by Michael Braverman IMG_4920

Officer Heather Glogolich is leading a Criminology elective in the Middle School and arranged a unique field trip for 7th and 8th grade students to visit the Public Safety Complex in Morris County on January 8th. The Criminology elective is focusing on dissecting a true-life case. To date, students have learned about the role of the police and investigators, investigative procedure, Miranda rights, the function of 911, and case review procedure.


Before the field trip, Detective Sarah Weiler from the Criminal Investigation Division visited the class at Unity to field questions with regards to the case they are currently studying. Detective Weiler is familiar with the case the students are analyzing and shared her expertise in evidence analysis for the entire period.

Students joined Officer Heather, Middle School teacher Mike Braverman and parent Susan Ilias on the trip to The Public Safety Complex, which includes the Office of Emergency Management, the Communications Center – including 911 Operations, the Crime Lab, and the Bomb Squad. In addition, this complex houses the training facilities for police and fire.


Upon arrival, students were welcomed into the situation room of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) by OEM Coordinator Jeff Paul. Jeff spent close to an hour describing the room, the function of the room and the functions of the staff that work within the main management room. In addition, he fielded questions from the students and adults. Questions ranged from procedure and process to real life situations like Hurricane Sandy and school violence. A state trooper joined the group and was able to detail the characteristics and educational background a student would need to pursue a career in law enforcement. From there, Jeff brought the students to see the county 911 operations room and 911 operators in action. Students then bundled up and walked outside to get a tour of OEM vehicles including a mobile crime scene unit.


The group then visited the Crime Labs with Detective Sarah Weiler and Detective Craig Brooks of the Morris County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigative Division. The detectives walked the students through the Crime Labs explaining evidence, fingerprints, and DNA. Students were able to see where the detectives do their crime lab work and were even able to walk through an evidence room. The students visited another part of the Labs where photographic evidence is analyzed. They met two civilian photo experts working within the OEM and learned about their backgrounds and how they could have a career within a crime lab without a law enforcement background.


Aside from the obvious benefits from this trip such as experts sharing their expertise and watching adults inspire the students, this field trip hit upon many of the 21st Century Life and Career strands of the Common Core Standards. Students witnessed how the OEM needs to use collaboration, teamwork, intrapersonal communications, media fluency, accountability, ethics, critical thinking, problem solving and leadership. In addition, students were introduced to many different careers and learned what they needed to do in order to prepare for such a career. The careers touched on abilities in all core content subjects – language arts, mathematics, science, and social sciences.


Students returned to school and had a Criminology class with Officer Heather. Officer Heather started the class with a video of the Junior Police Academy. In doing so, she provided the students with a tool to begin career exploration this summer as well as a link between their field trip and their future career planning. Several students in the class took applications.

The remaining four classes of Criminology will focus on the true-life case the students are studying. The class will culminate in a mock trial with half the class acting as the defense and the other half acting as the prosecution with Officer Heather playing the role of judge. Students will take their knowledge from the course, their independent research (which included a hands-on project of recreating the scene of the crime) and what they learned from this amazing field trip to present persuasive, evidence-based arguments in this simulation of a real life event.

About the Author

Michael Braverman was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston. He graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelors in Sociology. He received his masters in elementary education from Wheelock College in Boston. He taught fifth grade for six years in Natick, MA and taught fourth grade for two years in Randolph, NJ. He is currently in his eighth year at Unity, where he has taught a 4/5 classroom, middle school Science and middle school Math. Michael is also the Positive Discipline mentor for the staff as well as the middle school team leader. He has recently begun a program to obtain his supervisors certificate.

Michael has been married to his wife Diana for 10 years. They have a daughter Beau (8), a son Ty (4) and another daughter Finn (3). He loves to play sports, watch sports and coach sports. When Michael grows up, he wants to be a professional athlete.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

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