Solving the Mystery: What Happened to “Ana Garcia?”

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A new school year, a new mystery for biomedical science students to solve: what led to Ana Garcia’s demise?

A biomedical science student works to solve a "crime"

Who is Ana Garcia you may ask? It’s a human skeletal model strategically placed in Room 105 at the Upper School Campus that hides a story. Surrounded by bile made of food coloring, candy wrappers, droplets of fake blood, and fake pills, students play the role of forensic investigators to figure out what happened to her.

“They have to draw a scaled model of the crime scene,” said Yoly McCarthy, Upper School Biomedical Science Faculty & Department Chair. “In real life, the medical examiner takes the body in a couple of hours. They learn the importance of a scaled model in order to be able to prove a case in court if necessary.”

Along with surveying the scene, students are given a full medical report on the victim. Diabetes, anemia, heart conditions, and blood clots are just some of the things that have led to Ana Garcia’s deaths in past years. Yes, deaths. This is the eighth year that Mrs. McCarthy has staged a scene for her mostly-freshman class. It’s a year-long assignment that takes students through units of fingerprinting, DNA analysis, and more.

“They learn that they need to gather more than one piece of information to make a valid decision, and that it would still be considered a theory because we never have every single piece of the puzzle,” said Mrs. McCarthy. “Very quickly, students grow and mature in the way they take command of their own information gathering and the way they record their information. They take responsibility for what they say. They also grow in the writing aspect of things because of everything they have to defend.”

The assignment is a glimpse into the real world for Mrs. McCarthy’s students. What TV shows tend to solve in 30 minutes is proving to be a feat.

“The most surprising thing that I have learned from our experiments in class has been all of the different steps taken to solve a death. When you see a crime scene from the TV and news perspective it seems like the police solve crime easily. But, once you break down all of the different steps that are needed to even create a theory, figuring out the victim’s cause of death is extremely hard,” said Jacob Diaz ‘26.

As for what really happened to Ana Garcia, the details surrounding her case will be revealed at the end of the school year.

 

Middle school student building.