May 4, 2009


Student work marks TC3 success

College showcases academic work as part of anniversary celebration


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Tompkins Cortland Community College criminal justice student John Bourgeois Jr. holds a plaster cast of a skull as part of a mock crime scene display Saturday at the school’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Tompkins Cortland Community College celebrated its 40th anniversary by showing community residents how students spend time in the classroom.
A daylong showcase Saturday of student work from more than 30 academic departments culminated the event.
Dr. James Jacobs, associate professor of biology and chair of the TC3 Biotechnology Department, said planning for the celebration began last June.
The showcase took place inside the campus’s main building.
Jacobs said a committee including four professors and TC3 President Carl Haynes decided to feature students and staff as the focus of the celebration.
“We’re trying to get the students to demonstrate what they’re learning, the kids are doing a lot of stuff in the classroom that’s pertinent to what they’ll be doing when they’re out of school,” Jacobs said.
Several hundred residents from Cortland and Tompkins counties toured the campus throughout the day Saturday, watching groups of students demonstrate projects set up for the event or from their coursework.
“Hopefully, it’s an opportunity to see things that people may not know we do here,” Haynes said.
The day also featured a 24-hour seesaw marathon to raise money for breast cancer testing, a dunking booth to raise money for a scholarship and fireworks at about 9 p.m.
A mock crime scene inside the campus building was how criminal investigation students Matt Harrington and John Bourgeois demonstrated that a hands-on approach is the best way to learn skills, especially when they involve criminal cases.
Harrington and Bourgeois said they find the classwork exciting and were surprised at how intensive and tedious evidence gathering can be.
“You can’t wait to solve a case,” said Harrington, 19.
Their display included a skull and rib bone cast from those of a real homicide victim, as well as bullet casings and fake blood splatter, all marked and laid out on the floor.
Part of the course is for the students to get a feel for the complexities of a real crime scene, said Scott Ochs, professor and criminal justice chair. Ochs assisted Bourgeois and Harrington with their demonstration.
Ochs said he sets up crime scene scenarios at locations around campus and the students split into teams to handle different aspects of the investigation, such as evidence handling.
He said he makes sure to send out a notice to campus officials before setting up an exercise, especially one with fake blood spatter.
The students are graded based on the quality and thoroughness of their work handling crime scene scenarios and not necessarily if they solve the crime, Ochs said. They learn other aspects of investigation in the course, including interrogation and tracking suspects.
Ochs is a former criminal investigator from the state Inspector General’s Office in New York City, where he spent seven years doing surveillance and undercover work in the 1980s.
Harrington said students passing by a mock crime scene sometimes appear nervous at the sight of police tape.
Newspaper clippings, photos taken from around campus this year and video clips of student work were also displayed Saturday in the Baker Commons library before they are put inside a time capsule.
Janice Lawrence, a senior library clerk, said the goal for the time capsule was to show how people used the technology of today.
A laptop will be put inside so whoever opens it in the future can access video and picture files, she said.
Lawrence said she has not decided when to seal the time capsule, but it would be kept inside so it does not get lost.
“The temptation is not to open it,” said Margaret Anderson, a library archivist helping organize material for time capsule.
The Big Pink 24-hour seesaw event raised more than $6,000 to help Cortland and Tompkins county residents pay for breast cancer screenings, Haynes said.
Students and staff took turns on seesaws in teams, riding for several hours in a shift since 8 p.m. Friday.
Students also lined up at the dunk tank for a chance to soak faculty and staff members. Haynes was dunked four times.
The dunk tank raised money for a scholarship that goes to a student involved in student activities.
Haynes said he hoped people touring the campus would get a chance to see the camaraderie among students as they show their projects.
Jacobs said the event was designed for people to see students demonstrating firsthand what they were learning.


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