2019 has been a busy year at Think Forensic HQ. Here are a few of the things which have been keeping us busy…
“WELLCOME” TO FORENSICS
In conjunction with the Workers Education and Wellcome Trust we were commissioned to design and deliver our ‘Wellcome’ to Forensics programme. Aimed at members of the public each programme featured six half day sessions and included not only crime scene techniques and forensics but also interview techniques, criminology, archaeology, and profiling. We were able to provide 4 events based at different venues including Scunthorpe, Leicester, London and our own crime centre in Huddersfield. No prior knowledge or educational standard was required and the workshops were quickly fully subscribed with delegated enrolling from very diverse backgrounds. The workshops were pronounced a great hit with everyone and we thoroughly enjoyed delivering them. We hope to secure funding to be able to continue to deliver the programme in 2020. If you are interested in attending please keep an eye on either our website, Twitter or Facebook pages.
We have developed and refined our Digging Deeper into Forensics event for members of the public. Digging Deeper into Forensics is meant as a follow on to our CSI Experience, however, we have designed it in such a way that it is not essential to have been to the CSI Experience first. Digging Deeper into Forensics is especially fun as we “dig” out Boris, our blood spatter head, to create blood spatter patterns. So if you have a lot of tension you would like rid of then Digging Deeper into Forensics may be the place to do it. Further details about the sessions are available here. We are currently working on a new adult experience “Tracing the Truth” which will be launched on Saturday 13th June 2020. If you are interested in this workshop let us know and we will send you details when we have finalised things.
As many of you know for some time now, we have made and manufactured our own kits for use in schools. This year we have expanded our range to cater for individuals. These kits make ideal Christmas presents and include the following:
- Adult Fingerptint Kit for the would be super sleuths in your life
- Children’s Crime Busters Detective Kit
- Children’s Spy Kit
- Pet Pawprint Casting Kit
Following on from Harrogate Crime Writing and Dublin Murder One Festivals we have helped several of our author friends with technical questions around their plots and characters and we are now eagerly awaiting their new books. In addition we have joined forces with Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (author Sam Blake). Vanessa’s books include the Cat Connolly trilogy, “Little Bones”, “In Deep Water” and “No Turning Back”. She is due to release her new book, “Keep Your Eyes on Me” in January 2020. In conjunction with Vanessa we are planning a new Authors Workshop which is scheduled for May 2020, but we will update you soon.
THIS SEASON’S MYTH BUSTER
In 1953 the saint’s remains were exhumed to facilitate restoration work at the church. In 1957 the Italian anatomist Professor Luigi Martino conducted a complete analysis of the saint’s bones. From X-rays and measurements of the bones the professor concluded they represented a male who was over 70 years old, 5’4” tall, of slender to average build. The skull showed the Saint had a short face with wide cheek bones, broad forehead and slightly protruding chin. Consistent with his age St Nicholas suffered from chronic arthritis of the pelvis and spine.
WRITING HINTS & TIPS FOR YOU BY VANESSA FOX O’LOUGHLIN
Good crime is all about pace and tension, about hooking the reader into the story and not letting them go – every writer wants their reader to be so engrossed they read the book in one sitting, and acieving that is paramount.
There’s a constant debate about whether crime fiction is plot driven or character driven, but without great characters you have no plot. Robert McKee in his amazing book STORY talks about the plot being generated by the character’s reactions to events. Story is about conflict and about change – if the characters do not change in some way as a result of the story, there is no story. Conflict gives us energy, it gives the characters problems to solve, it hooks us in and is core to any book. And crime readers are an intelligent bunch, they love a challenge, are the type of readers who enjoy cross word puzzles, who can spot a forensic error a mile off – they know their stuff and expect high standards.
And, conflict in my mind, is more than literal, a character’s internal conflict, their personality, their reactions, are key to keeping a reader hooked – it’s vital that as a reader you are interested enough in and fascinated enough to want to read on, and only three dimensional complex characters will achieve that. Everyone has hope and fears and things they’d rather people didn’t know. Fictional characters are just the same.
But how do crime writers create that all important edge of the seat page turning story?
Great characters are vital, a great plot too, but that’s not enough, it’s how that story is delivered that holds the reader. Here are some key techniques – next time you read a crime novel look out for them;
Starting right as the action begins. This is vital to building tension and applies to every chapter as well as that crucial first one. Getting your reader right into the middle of a scene as fast as possible keeps them engrossed. In today’s fast paced environment of internet and TV no-one has the patience to smell the roses and discuss the relative merits of tea roses over climbers if there’s a body lying in the middle of the rose bed.
A vital weapon in the crime writer’s arsenal. Dripping detail essential to the plot builds a solid and convincing narrative and when the end comes the reader has an ‘oh yes’ moment when they realise the clues where there all along. Equally the crime fiction reader is sharp and experienced in the genre and has an expectation that the writer will deliver – as playwright and short story writer Checkov said, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” For me, not knowing the answer to the key question in Little Bones meant that I had to trust the characters to guide me, trust that they had left the answers woven in to the threads of their appearances, and thankfully they had. When I went back and re-read it, I could see the markers.
SHORT, CLIPPED, NO NONSENSE SENTENCES
Moves the reader along fast when you need the pace to increase – next time your read Lee Child just look at his sentence structure. Pace and tension of intrinsically linked. When Cathy’s is in the gym and working through a case in her mind, her sentences can be as staccato as her punches.
SHORT FOCUSED CHAPTERS
These do the same thing, creating that sense of forward movement – what does the reader need to know in this chapter that is crucial to moving the plot forward and what is the cleanest way to deliver that? In Little Bones some of the chapters are only 1000 words long providing a window on one of the intertwined subplots without distracting you from the main story. Chapters of differing length speed up and slow down the reader at crucial moments.
pARED BACK DESCRIPTION
This is vital in crime writing (we’re back to the roses) – choosing your words carefully, using the fewest possible to paint a clear picture for the reader moves everything along at a trot. Using character action and dialogue to show your reader the setting means the tension is not lost through in description, it ensures you stay with the character all the way through the scene.
Sounds like a cliché, but these are vital to keep your reader hooked. In Little Bones though, I want to take you right to the edge of the cliff, show you how high the drop is, then show you something in the clouds as you teeter precariously on the edge.
This is crucial to creating tension. If a character’s heart is beating hard, as a reader you feel their fear and the tension leaps off the page – if they are frightened, and they are the ones right there in the scene – as a reader you know you should be frightened too. In the first chapter of Little Bones, despite Cathy’s experience as a detective (and as a kickboxer), her feminine intuition is kicking in and the hairs are standing up on the back of her neck, successfully, I hope building enough tension to keep you reading on…
© SAM BLAKE
Our first session of the afternoon was with Sue Procter, a former police officer with an incredibly clear way of explaining things. She and current Scene of Crime Officer David Wright talked us through a few processes we would be using later in our crime scene; taking moulds of footprints, dusting for prints in various ways and taking fingerprints. Read More…
A Break In. A Theft. Find The Evidence. Analyse It. Solve The Crime!
Can You Do It?
Free fun and exciting drop in 29th July, everyone welcome. Come and visit us at our crime centre Lodge Street, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield. HD8 9DR and help track down the criminal behind “The Great Art Heist”. this is a family friendly event and is suitable for all ages. Doors open 10am last entry 3pm.
- Learn how to develop and identify fingerprints like the professionals.
- Use digital micrscopes to look at hair and fibres
- Make a composite picture of the criminal
- Examine soil and footwear marks
- And much more…
Tickets are free and available
Read a totally independent blog by Jessica and Glen following a visit to one of our recent events.
“I was looking for something different to do for Glen’s birthday and found out about a CSI experience! We are both obsessed with true crime podcasts so this fitted our interests very well. Glen and I attended Think Forensic in Huddersfield to participate in an adult CSI experience day. The three hours…………..more
At Think Forensic, we are proud of our vision to help as many people as possible engage with and have fun with Science. From Primary schools to Corporate training we see the advantage of using Science to learn and develop.
Recently we were approached by a student looking for help with her EPQ and we were delighted to assist; Please read a small summary of her work assisted by Think Forensic.
My project on the development of forensic science and how it has had an impact on the way crimes are now solved.
I am an 18-year-old college student who is doing the EPQ (extended project qualification). For those of you who haven’t heard of this, this is an extra qualification you can do, and you are given the freedom to choose any question you would like to research about with a dissertation and presentation produced at the end of this.
I decided to research on the developments of forensic science and whether they have had an impact on crime solving. I am a biology and chemistry student who in my free time enjoys looking at case studies and watching documentaries on new developments in crime investigating. This is the main reason why I based my question on forensics as it’s a topic I’m very much interested in and passionate about.
There were many things I needed to research when it came to be writing my dissertation such as, going back to the past and to talk about where forensics had originated from, all the way to the modern developments used widely today. In addition, I also researched on the future of forensics and the developments which haven’t quite reached the surface but are still being worked on such as the rotating camera device. This takes photos of a scene and a software programme puts this all together. When in the courtroom the jury can virtualise the actual crime scene along with others and have a feeling of walking around the room.
After all my research and essay had been completed, the final step was to present my findings and show people the outcome of my project. I was given a display board which I could put up some of the areas I investigated. Things which were displayed were: fingerprints of my own, I did this by using an aluminium fingerprint powder and some fingerprint lifters and mounts given to me by ‘Think Forensics’, case studies such as how ballistics was used in John F Kennedys assassination, some down points of forensics such as cross-contamination in Meredith Kerchers investigation, facial reconstruction, forensic dentistry and fingerprinting. I had also displayed a forensic suit, to give people an idea of what is usually worn by forensic scientists and explained why it was vital for it to be worn.
The presentation was amazing and sharing my ideas and findings to others felt incredible. Of course, if it weren’t for ‘Think Forensic’, I wouldn’t have been able to set up my presentation and display it the way it was with actual equipment used in forensics to show others a real representation of some techniques used in forensics.
An enquiring mind, excellent communications skills and a detailed approach to work
For many people, the world of a CSI is seen as a viewer, while watching one of your favourite TV shows or world-famous detective but in reality, it’s all about detailed scientific observation and real-time methodical collection of facts, figures and evidence; once all this is started then the ability to communicate clearly and efficiently is paramount to solving any incident and providing evidence that can sustain real scrutiny.
At Think Forensic all our team are real-life professionals who have worked real-life incidents from start to conclusion; with this, in mind, we thought you would like to read about some of the topics we share with you on our experience days.
- Blood and body fluids – we show you blood spatters and collection techniques and why these can crack a case
- Hair and fibres – how important these are to connecting and identifying suspects
- Paint and glass fragments – what they lead to and how
- Tyre marks – how to cast a mould and the importance of observation
- Flammable substances and use in starting fires
- Communication skills – how to easily share information
- Interview techniques – how to question a suspect and what you need to do to read body language
The above are just a few things that Think Forensic can teach you, but that’s not all; we can adapt our skills and scenes to make fun training and great parties at our bespoke venue (the only one of it’s kind) with real crime scenes all set up ready for your own personal experience.
We love to encourage young people in the sciences and run school ‘science clubs’ that encourage young people to engage in science and develop a love for it. Great clubs and fun events for all ages like the ‘missing carrot’ and the ‘author’s workshop’ or taking Corporate training to a new level of fun and interaction where you get to use and improve your skills and build your team confidence.
Give us call for a chat about how we can make learning fun. firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01484 860 599
My husband bought me a course here for Christmas because I’ve always been fascinated by forensics and crime scene investigation. We attended yesterday and it was sooo good! Paul and Sue were friendly, funny and incredibly experienced so kept us all engaged the whole time. Learning about finger prints, shoe print casting and collecting fibres and hairs was great. The ‘crime scenes’ are really detailed and well thought out. I have so much respect for CSIs and the whole police team who investigate crimes. Thank you Sue and Paul for being so welcoming and showing us how it all works!
Hi my name is Millie, I came to Think Forensic for my work experience. I found the placement through my volunteering. I met Sue from the company at a district meeting for girl guiding, which I started when I was doing my bronze duke of Edinburgh award nearly two years ago, I continued for my silver award. I showed an interest in Think Forensic as when I was listening to Sue’s talk. I thought what an amazing experience it would be to work with people who also have a large interest and a wide knowledge of forensics, that was over a year ago. The reason I chose Think Forensic for my work experience as forensic science and entomology has been an interest of mine since I was 5, I am currently 15 and studying in my last year at the Mirfield free grammar and sixth form. I have been at my work experience for a week and it has been a brilliant experience, it has allowed me to use my team building skills along with acquiring more knowledge on forensics as a whole, it has also given me the chance to meet new people. It has opened my eyes to new opportunities, including bringing my family and friends along to the CSI experience as it’s a fun experience for all.
There have also been elements of my work experience that may have felt a bit boring, for example, having to make up spreadsheets for contacts, but even if this was boring, it has allowed me to improve my technological skills and organisation skills. There has also been elements of my work experience that have been very enjoyable, which include helping children throughout the experience to see how they react to life like crime scenes. I also enjoyed making the template Halloween costume and modelling for it! In addition to forensic workshops Think Forensic also run science clubs in schools. I was able to experience one of the sessions with Debbie at St Aidan’s primary where we worked with KS2, this allowed me to use my chemistry skills and work with younger children.
Overall my work experience has been brilliant, I would advise anyone who is wanting work experience and is interested in forensics and entomology, but also enjoys working with a team and acquiring knowledge and skills to apply for Think Forensic. I would like to thank the staff at Think Forensic for also being so welcoming and helpful within my experience as a whole.