Grant program helps Orange County students with science, technology projects

DANA POINT, Calif. (KABC) -- The notorious English pirate Blackbeard died nearly 300 years ago in a battle along the Carolina coast. Now, middle schoolers from Laguna Beach are trying to figure out how he died.

The seventh and eighth grade students from Thurston Middle School combed through a crime scene in Dana Point Wednesday afternoon.

The students used new technology to investigate Blackbeard's mysterious death.

"It's loosely based on historical events. We're going to try Sir. Francis Drake for the crime. He was stabbed 27 times and shot five," teacher Michelle Martinez said.

The students are part of Martinez's forensics class. The goal is to use a real life scenario to encourage critical thinking and problem solving.

The students moved inside the Dana Point Ocean Institute for the second part of their lesson. They used a robot made by seventh-grader Salvatore Lacorte to navigate a tank with evidence inside.

"Say it's a very dangerous dive, you could send it down first before sending an actual human life," Salvatore said.

The project is funded in part by a Cox Communications Innovation in Education grant. The program encourages students, especially young women, to keep pursuing work in the field.

"We can make a difference. We can motivate women and girls to do more stuff in the STEM field because we have ideas, too," eighth-grader Sophia Lander said.

Fourteen other schools in Orange County received the grant for science and technology programs.
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