Escondido Police Department encourages STEM

Escondido Police Department encourages STEM
Caroline and Laura Pool of the Metro San Diego area fingerprint themselves as Officer Lynn Feely looks on. Caroline is interested in forensic science so she and her mother attended the event Monday. Photo by Ellen Wright

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Police Department is trying to get kids in the region excited about math.

As part of the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering, officers spoke with kids throughout the region about how they use the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, (STEM), everyday.

Officer Scott Christensen talked to students about how the traffic division uses math to solve major collisions.

He told the students that he regretted not paying enough attention to math during school because he didn’t believe he would need it as a police officer.

“I knew for a long time I wanted to be a police officer, so I didn’t pay a lot of attention to math or science. I thought you just chased down the bad guys,” Christensen told the group of about 60 on Monday.

Later, he had to go through 500 hours of college level physics and math courses as part of his training to become a traffic investigator.
He showed the students how geometry is used when measuring accidents and how he uses the quadratic formula to determine the speed a car was traveling when it crashed.

Officer Scott Christensen talks to students about the importance of math in traffic investigation. He showed them how he uses a surveyor to plot points of a traffic accident. Photo by Ellen Wright

Officer Scott Christensen talks to students about the importance of math in traffic investigation. He showed them how he uses a surveyor to plot points of a traffic accident. Photo by Ellen Wright

El Capitan High School teacher Sandy Martinez brought her forensic science students to see the police department’s real world use of lessons they’re learning in the classroom.

“It’s a total reinforcement of what they’re learning. We’re getting out to see the stuff we do in class to show them it’s real,” Martinez said.

The forensics class explores the application of the scientific method in criminal justice and Martinez said about 50 percent of her students have shown an interest in pursuing a career involved in criminal justice.

After hearing from Christensen, students were given a lesson in forensic crime scene investigation by Officer Lynn Feely.

Feely talked about the department’s use of DNA and fingerprinting when investigating crime scenes and the importance of a statewide database.

Sergeant Scott Walters said the department has been involved with the science festival for about five years.

He hopes to get students excited about STEM fields and understand real-world applications.

“Law enforcement is really one of those fields that a lot of kids would never expect to see science or math. Even if it’s not law enforcement we try to encourage them that you never know when you’re going to need that stuff,” Walters said.

Over the years Walters estimates about 600 students have come to the free presentations.

The lessons were part of a larger regional effort to encourage students to get involved in STEM.

All over San Diego, businesses, universities and professionals are holding demonstrations for kids.

“We all know San Diego is a hot bed for scientific innovation, in a region which offers a uniquely collaborative spirit, high concentration of world-class research institutions, and a strong foundation for new company creation and development,” Managing Director of the festival, Sara DW Pagano said.

San Diego is the third largest biotechnology and biomedical hub in the nation, behind Boston and San Francisco.

“Our festival is a catalyst to transfer that knowledge and collaboration to show students and their parents how science translates into careers and further fuels our economy in San Diego County.”

EXPO Day, the culmination of the weeklong event, will be held at Petco Park March 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m and demonstrations throughout the county can be found online at lovestemsd.org.

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