Staged auto-pedestrian accident teaches kids good lessons

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THORNTON, Colo. -- Field trips, guest speakers, in-class videos ... all designed to keep students interested.  Eighth grade science teacher Helen Speigel had another idea.

It was an auto-pedestrian fatality. "I thought it would be an awesome way to get the kids engaged in the concept of physics," says Speigel.

Of course, Speigel is not suggesting an actual crash and fatality, but one that was staged by the Thornton Police Dept.

So, with a little help from Thornton PD, Thornton Fire Dept, and seventh grade teacher Kristina Ciccone as the fatality, physics class begins at Shadow Ridge Middle School. "I thought by doing something like this it would give them a chance to see how physics can be applied to real world situations," says Speigel.

With three patrol cars speeding to the crash scene with lights and siren wailing, a fire truck on scene as well and even a "drunken driver" to be arrested made the scene very realistic.

Lessons learned? "I liked it because you get that feeling of inspecting stuff, like what detectives on TV do," said one female student.

Thornton Police officer Jesus Mendez likes the life-like lesson plan. "They get to see officers, firemen, being able to do work … their normal every day job and the science that goes into that."

The high energy, and sometimes gory event, also taught another lesson. "Not to drink and drive," said a male student.

That's a bonus.

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