- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Children will get a chance to try their hands and minds at a fictitious forensic investigation Saturday and Sunday as Court TV’s Mobil Investigation Unit makes a stop at Tysons Corner Center.

“This is an opportunity for kids of all ages to get off the couch and perform the forensic techniques they see on TV to solve a caper,” says Evan Shapiro, Court TV’s senior vice president.

The unit is an educational forensics lab that tours the country — appearing in 23 cities in the next few months — teaching children about forensic science.

Children are presented with the following scenario: The Kloos family — Anita, Billy, Suzie, Mike, Grandma and their dog — is being sabotaged at a state fair. The family members are competing in various contests — Mike with his chili recipe and Anita in the singing competition — at the fair and have all their recipes and music stored in a laptop computer.

The computer is stolen from a locker at the fair, and it is up to each visiting child to figure out who among six suspects is guilty of the theft.

To solve the crime, children have panels of evidence at their disposal. They get to study fingerprints, hairs, fibers, handwriting samples and shoe prints and compare them to those of the suspects, who include Leo “Chili” Thompson, Mike’s nemesis, and Amanda Burns, Anita’s fiercest competition.

The children learn that Amanda is wearing a red dress and no gloves and can’t stand losing. Leo dons loafers with sawdust on them, has no gloves and was overheard saying that without the laptop, “Mike’s chances of winning are cooked.”

How does all this information fit into solving the crime? Go to Tysons Corner Center and find out, the organizers urge.

The tour, which features an interactive exhibit built by Court TV, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the American Academy of Forensic Science, is in its second year.

Organizers say forensic science, which has been popularized by television shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “NYPD Blue” and Court TV’s own “Forensic Files,” helps make and keep children interested in science.

More info

What: Court TV’s Mobile Investigation Unit

Where: Tysons Corner Center, 1961 Chain Bridge Road, McLean

When: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

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