Teaching Inspector Clouseau to Be Sherlock Holmes By JILL P. CAPUZZO Published: September 24, 2006 NYTimes WATCH where you walk. Don't touch or move anything. You can make maps, take notes. I'll be back to get you in a little while.'' With those simple instructions, William Wheeler, a science teacher, let loose the first group of five high school juniors and seniors in a classroom once used to teach music but now marked by blood smears on the floor, a dinner table set with partly eaten chili and half-smoked cigarettes and a bloodied wooden baton and cotton cloth. Jessica Villante gave a short gasp when she first saw the blood, then got down to business, examining the bloody baton and what she thought was a shoelace. ''Maybe they hit them over the head with that,'' she said, pointing to the baton as she surmised about an unknown victim and an unknown assailant. Meanwhile, her classmate Mike Dowbysz noticed lipstick on the rim of a Champagne flute and saw that one cigarette had been smoked more than the other. Six minutes later, Mr. Wheeler returned, replacing these students with the next group, who spent time measuring distances and drawing pictures. This was fourth-period science class at Jackson Memorial High School -- where forensic science is being offered for the first time this fall. The course proved to be so popular that the school had to open up extra sessions for the 180 students who signed up. ''Originally, we planned for two sessions, but when I saw the numbers that were interested, we had to change the schedule,'' said Daniel McDevitt, an assistant principal who pushed for the new elective course, which combines skills learned in chemistry, biology and physical science classes. The enthusiastic response can be traced in part to the popular forensic police-procedure shows on television, like the ''C.S.I.'' series. But students in the class, while acknowledging that they watched the shows, were more interested in the practical nature of the course. ''It's like real life,'' said Zocema Babar, a student who said she was interested in pursuing a career in forensics. ''It's really hands on. Plus, there's not a lot of homework.'' Mr. Dowbysz said he wants to be a chemical engineer, while Ms. Villante is interested in medicine, and both can see how this course could dovetail with their career aspirations. In the coming weeks, students will learn about fingerprinting, ballistics, toxicology, pathology, autopsies, DNA blood typing and fiber analysis. Future crime scenes may be set up outdoors. The idea for the course came from Mr. Wheeler, who has taught biology for 35 years and has included a short unit on forensics at the end of the year for his advanced placement biology students as a reward for completing that grueling class. When he suggested it as a full, elective course, Mr. McDevitt asked him to put together a course description and requirements to present to the school board. The board was fully supportive, Mr. McDevitt said, even when Mr. Wheeler needed to buy a gallon of cow's blood and a supply of luminol, a blood-detection chemical. Noting that ''we tend to walk through society with tunnel vision,'' Mr. Wheeler said he hoped the class would help sharpen students' ability to observe and analyze: as it turned out, the stage set in the music room was not of a crime scene at all, but rather the scene of an accident. One person used the cloth, wrapped around the baton, as a tourniquet to stop the other person from bleeding. Mr. Wheeler is also eager to expose students to something new. ''We're not trying to turn out forensic scientists, but maybe some of them will go into this in college,'' he said. ''Everybody doesn't have to be a doctor or a lawyer.''