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Community Engagement Incentive Grant: Dawnie Wolfe Steadman

The Forensic Files

“A partial skeleton was found on the edge of the woods after a snowfall…”

With the help of a UT Outreach Incentive Grant, UT’s Forensic Anthropology Center, UT’s Department of Anthropology, and the Knox County Schools, students from six Knox County high schools used forensic science methods and tools to determine age, sex, cause of trauma, length of decomposition and other information as they participated in the Forensic Files Project.

Dawnie Wolfe Steadman

The Project, spearheaded by forensic anthropology professor Dawnie Steadman, enriched the high schools’ forensic science curriculum while providing teaching and engagement opportunities for UT’s undergraduate and graduate students.

The Forensic Files Project used UT Outreach Incentive Grant funds to increase the diversity of educational opportunities for high school students by demonstrating how forensic anthropology casework and research is conducted, providing one-on-one encounters with UT students who are enrolled in the anthropology program, and promoting the University of Tennessee and Forensic Anthropology Center.

Knox County students gained  first hand knowledge and hands-on experience in a specialized area of forensic science.

The UT students, in turn, benefited from this program by seeing first hand the value of outreach service, learning about the desires and needs of high school students, and enhancing their professionalism in the field. The UT students put together the presentations under Steadman’s guidance, wrote the scenarios for the exercise stations and presented them in the schools.

Courtesy Higher Ground

Educational outreach has been shown to increase student interest in the STEM fields, and increases college enrollment, too. Steadman and her students are eager to continue working with Knox County Schools and hope to expand their reach into neighboring communities as well.