Good morning, readers! It’s been a little too long since I’ve posted, about 4 weeks I think. After a bit of traveling throughout Central American over Christmas Break, school is back in session for probably all of us. I wish you all the best in the second semester!
Back in November, I posted about the first ever PBL project that I ever completed in my first year of teaching: forensic science. I’m here with a quick update to discuss the details of my project that is now for sale on my TeachersPayTeachers store. The new Forensic Science Project Bundle includes everything you need to launch your very own CSI project!
The project opens with a PowerPoint and discussion about the types of forensic evidence that could be found at a crime scene. This refers to the categories of evidence, not specific pieces of evidence. Secondly, the students dive into a wonderful RadioLab episode about Otzi the Iceman in which they listen and try to write down the pieces of evidence that were found at the scene. Afterwards is where the fun starts!
Lab #1: Forensic Fiber Analysis
The Forensic Fiber Analysis lab is the perfect way to get students engaged in the labs – lighting things on fire! Students will determine an unknown piece of fabric by conducting burn tests on known pieces of fabric and recording their observations. They will observe the burn tests using all their senses (minus taste, of course) to see how the known samples match up to the unknown sample.
Lab #2: Forensic Fingerprint Analysis
The Forensic Fingerprint Analysis lab is the class go-to method of forensic analysis. I guarantee you that if you were to mention “forensics” to your students, the first things they will think of are either DNA or fingerprint. The only additional speciality material that you’ll need is a fingerprint ink pad which is available on Amazon for cheap. Students will be taught how to closely observe their own fingerprints to look for their basic pattern and, more importantly, their more detailed ridge characteristics. Fingerprint analysis takes tons of patience and close observation which is perfect for the science classroom!
Lab #3: Forensic Hair Analysis
The Forensic Hair Analysis lab gives students the chance to observe their and their peers’ hairs under a microscope. They are first introduced to the hair growth cycle and hair anatomy to use as background knowledge. Hair is a very common piece of trace evidence that is left behind at crime scene, so they have the potential to be crucial in the solving of a case. Students will be taught what visual characteristics to look for when differentiating between known and unknown samples.
Lab #4: Forensic Handwriting Analysis
The Forensic Handwriting Analysis lab introduces students to handwritten notes that could be left at a crime scene. While it is very easy for criminals to forge handwriting, this lab gives the students a note found at a crime scene and 5 suspects’ handwriting to compare it to. They are to closely analyze the loops, patterns, dots, crosses, and everything in between to see which suspect matches the unknown sample at the crime scene.
Lab #5: Forensic Footprint Analysis
The Forensic Footprint Analysis lab engages students by having them first measure their height and length of their feet. From there, they measure their stride length. Using these measurements, they can easily calculate two ratios so that, if they were to ever encounter a crime scene ;), they could estimate the approximate height of potential footprint found at the scene.