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CSI - Fingerprint Identification


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Keywords: Fingerprinting, Forensics
Subject(s): Science
Grades 7 through 8
School: Tuttle Middle School, Tuttle, OK
Planned By: Jody Maxey
Original Author: Jody Maxey, Tuttle
As all good detectives do, they take notes for background information. We will begin with discussions on the different types of prints: plain arch, tented arch, ulnar loop, radial loop, plain whorl, central pocket loop, double loop whorl, and accidental whorl. We'll use this knowledge with interactive activities to correctly identify different types of prints. Now, we will go to the lab, and they will practice taking their own prints using ink and identify what types of prints they have. They will add this ten card (fingerprint chart) to their detective notebook for future use.
Day 2 brings collecting fingerprint evidence using a different method. Detectives will practice dusting and lifting fingerprints from an object (plastic cup). They will use fingerprint brushes (you can also use makeup blush brushes or make your own using sticks and feathers) to dust the "evidence" for prints. They will use clear tape to lift the print from the surface of the cup and adhere it to a fingerprint card (index cards work just fine). Since fingerprint powder is expensive to use and replace, I have made my own fingerprint powder using a mixture of old toner from the copier and baby powder. It works great. They will then compare the inked prints from day 1 to the dusted prints for comparison. Their dusted prints will be added to their detective notebook for future use.
Day 3 brings us to identifying prints with greater detail and accuracy. We will be looking at specific ridgeline details on specific fingerprints. Detectives, again, will take notes on ridgeline details to look for on a print. They will then practice identifying different ridgeline details on one print using a clear transparency to mark on. After this practice time, the detectives will move on to comparing prints using ridgeline details. Detectives will be given three prints to analyze the ridgeline details. When are they finished, they will compare their results to see if any of the three match each other. Detectives will go back to their own fingerprint samples in their notebooks and analyze them for ridgeline detail practice and to have for future use. The next activity is a game. Each detective group will have a fingerprint to analyze for ridgeline details and then try to match it from a group of fingerprints. When they believe they have found their match, they will pick their match up and hold it until everyone is finished. I will reveal the correct fingerprint matches to see how they did.
Day 4 brings us to the "crime." Scenario: "The teachers had a luncheon in the science lab, and there was a huge mess left! Several cups were left at the scene with possible fingerprint evidence. Your job as a crime scene investigator is to determine who left the mess and assign them two days of detention." Each detective team will identify and document the evidence in their detective notebook. They will then proceed to dust and lift any fingerprints they discover and adhere them to fingerprint cards, correctly labelling which finger and the type. They will then analyze, identify, and mark ridgeline details. In their Crime Scene Kits (tool boxes I have stocked with everything imaginable), the detectives have a notebook containing all the faculty fingerprints in our building. They will compare the unknown print to the known prints of the faculty. They will compile a list of possible suspects based on the evidence.
FYI: In addition to faculty fingerprints, I have a database of their lip prints, footprints, handprints, hair samples, "blood types", and shoe castings.
This lesson, along with all the other lessons in the crime lab, will require written and verbal communication, written documentation, analyses, and conclusions, as well as critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Comments
I plan to expand my lesson with digital cameras. The students will not only photograph the evidence, but they will bring it back to the crime lab and upload the pictures of the evidence, in this case fingerprints, to the main computer (mine). From there, they will use software to enlarge the picture of the print to get a better look at the ridgeline details. They will then analyze and mark the print accordingly. The next step will be to create a presentation (either PowerPoint or SMARTboard Notebook Software) using the SMARTboard for a detective "briefing" session with the other detective units.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson will incorporate a wide variety of skills, such as written and verbal communication, science concepts, use of technology, use of software, and creating presentations.
Follow-Up
All of the lessons in my Crime Lab will be cumulated in a practical exam at the end of the nine weeks. Detectives will be tested on proper techniques in lifting fingerprints and correctly identifying types and ridgeline details.
Materials: Mobile Labs, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries