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Bulldog Times

Student News Site of Ruben S. Ayala High School

Bulldog Times

So you want to take… Forensic Biology?

As+the+forensics+biology+course+applies+skills+learned+from+other+science+classes%2C+this+class+involves+laboratory+assignments+that+are+geared+towards+real+life+forensics+cases.+In+the+image%2C+students+are+seen+getting+ready+to+burn+a+fiber.+
Roxy Kalantari
As the forensics biology course applies skills learned from other science classes, this class involves laboratory assignments that are geared towards real life forensics cases. In the image, students are seen getting ready to burn a fiber.

For the 2023-2024 school year, Ayala has opened up several new course options across core and elective subjects for students to choose from. Many of the course offerings are specific to a pathway such as business, computer science, or engineering. Among these new courses lies Forensic Biology, covering topics related to legal matters as it lends itself to students who might be interested in pursuing a career in criminology or an adjacent field at the intersection of science and law. 

This class is a third-year science course taught solely by Mr. Robert Ly, a CP chemistry teacher. The prerequisites for enrolling in the forensics class are earning a C or higher in biology in addition to a physical science (either chemistry or physics). Since this is a new class, the curriculum is not completely set in stone quite yet. However, many exciting plans are in the works at the moment. One thing that Mr. Ly looks forward to as the year progresses is inviting guest speakers to come in and talk about how forensics is applied in a variety of fields that pertain to criminal cases or studies.

“In cases of domestic abuse or psychological abuse, we might have to bring in a forensic psychologist. It also involves things like digging up bones [and deducing whether they] are archeological remains or from criminal activity. That would involve a forensic anthropologist, somebody who specializes in bones,” Ly said. 

The process of getting forensic biology up and running entailed reaching out to textbook companies, people who teach the course at other schools, and websites that allow people to download their curriculum. Mr. Ly uses these resources to get inspiration for lessons and the assignments he gives students. There is still a lot of troubleshooting that unfortunately falls on both the teacher and the students who have to figure out the layout and structure of this brand new class, which can lead to some curtailing in the amount of guidance that students receive. As a result, they have to do a lot of the heavy work on their own without a ton of help.

“Sometimes lessons can be confusing and you may find yourself having to study a lot for the class as a result of the sheer amount of information we do learn in forensics,” Sayee Deshmukh (12) said. “Although I think in the future this definitely won’t be an issue; it’s just natural as it is a new course being offered at Ayala.”

The extensive amount of homework goes along with the hands-on activities that students do in class. Quite a few labs are held every week where they get to use microscopes and other equipment to analyze DNA “evidence” or use gel electrophoresis machines to read fingerprints that would be left at a hypothetical crime scene. It is a really specific subject that draws from a broad range of disciplines, so not only is the course material geared towards students who want to enter the legal profession, but it could also be relevant to other areas.

“I would recommend this class to pretty much anyone who’s interested in either chemistry or biology, or anyone who wants to get into criminal justice and law enforcement,” Micah Luck (12) said.

The nature of the class is a little bit more relaxed, so if there is something that students are struggling on, Mr. Ly has no problem slowing down or making the class retake a test. There is no maximum duration for how long each unit takes. This can make it fun because if the class is really enjoying learning about a particular topic, then Mr. Ly tries to fit in more activities on it. Conversely, if there is a unit that students are really tired of but there are still more concepts to cover, then they will just skip over those. “On the fly” adjustments to lesson plans are common and flexible enough to accommodate the level of interest students have, which can be very refreshing as oftentimes what makes a class boring is when students have no input and are forced to participate in unappealing activities for a grade.  

“If you don’t want to take an AP science, this is one of your options. It’s low stakes. We learn stuff, but it’s not like we have to prepare for any exam,” Ly said.

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Kaitlyn Luu, Staff Member
Kaitlyn Luu (10) is a second-year staff writer for the Bulldog Times and looks forward to further contributing to Ayala’s news publication. Kaitlyn decided to join the Bulldog Times to gain some experience in student journalism and improve her writing skills. She aims to gather various perspectives and outlooks from people through covering stories about her peers’ academic and personal lives. Kaitlyn is a third degree black belt in taekwondo and plays the guitar. In her leisure time, she enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music, as well as other escapist outlets. Her sanctuary and favorite feature of campus is the library where she spends much of her time.
Roxy Kalantari, Staff Member
Roxy Kalantari (10) is a staff reporter for The Bulldog Times, and this is her first year on staff. Roxy hopes to write news and spread awareness for situations happening on campus. She's been writing since she was in the fourth grade and she looks forward to making friends with her editors and (hopefully) some of the people that she interviews. In addition to being a writer in journalism, she hopes to be an author one day-- or a veterinarian and help animals. In her free time, she enjoys binging The Office and Gilmore Girls and she loves listening to music.
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