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Traveling exhibit offers 'CSI' experience

Visitors to a Boston science museum solve simulated crimes through lab experiments, 'morgue' visits and computer analysis. Photos: Exhibit lets you star in 'CSI'

BOSTON--Even if the song "Who Are You" conjures memories of Pete Townshend instead of lab coats and Las Vegas, "CSI:The Experience," will intrigue you.

The interactive science and tech exhibit, now at the Museum of Science in Boston, consists of simulated crime scenes, a series of labs resembling sets from the show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, two "morgues" and interactive computer analysis programs with cool sounds effects.

Visitors are given an introduction from William Peterson in character as CSI's Gil Grissom assigning a crime scene investigation. There are one of three possible crimes to investigate, one of them being a less gruesome option for parents with younger children.

The exhibit opened in Boston on September 30 and runs through January 1, 2008. But even if you don't live in the New England area, it is traveling as part of a consortium program, so you can still make plans to see it when it comes to a city near you. There's also a companion Web site for those who can't wait.

"Forensics is a fantastic way to talk about the sciences and tech. It includes biology, chemistry, physics and a good bit of digital tech," said Suzanne Berryman, program manager in exhibit interpretation at the Museum of Science, Boston.

The exhibit is very free-form in the sense that people can explore and complete tasks at their own paces.

In addition to the exhibit, the museum has lectures for adults with real-life forensics experts, as well as kiosks on forensic investigation for visitors to interact with throughout the general museum.

The exhibit may be of special interest to schools--at least in Massachusetts--as it purposely incorporates a required teaching topic for meeting state education standards, according to Berryman.

"It's the foundation of the scientific method that students are required to learn in the state of Massachusetts. So it's not just scientific content, but also the scientific method," she said.

The field of digital forensics is exploding in the real world and the exhibit reflects that change by incorporating computers and digital tech, said Berryman.

"Anything you come in contact with could link a suspect to a crime. It's a huge new field. Crime labs have a whole new division now focusing on computers and digital evidence," she said.

The museum had a strong opening over the weekend, an indication that this could be a real crowd grabber for both the Boston museum and the other hosting museums across the country.

"We're expecting at least 100,000 to come through the exhibit (in Boston), though it's hard to determine. The first day we nearly sold out, so it could be more. It seems to be very popular," said Berryman.