Fingerprint Pattern Analysis in Forensics

This is a practical worksheet that gives enlarged fingerprint patterns and asks students to find the individual characteristics in the fingerprints.  This is a great way to give students the opportunity to make some comparisons themselves!Fingerprint Analysis Activity

Fingerprint Analysis In Practice…

This activity takes approximately 45 minutes for students to complete.  Often, after the students have completed this activity, I have them use plain white paper and an inkpad to make their own fingerprint patterns.  Depending on time and resources, these patterns can be scanned to enlarge them or made larger using a copy machine.  My students enjoy seeing their own fingerprints.

It is good to use in a Forensics course after discussing the different minutiae patterns, and how to do a ridge count by finding a core and delta.

This topic follows Crime Scene Protocols in my forensics curriculum.  The unit topics up to this point in the course are:

  • Introduction to Forensics
  • Crime Scene Protocols
  • Fingerprint Evidence

Check out the Forensics page for a full list of resources available for a Forensic Science course.

If you are interested in using my prezi with your class, you will find the information needed to complete the activity. The prezi describes some of the history of fingerprinting, people involved in major discoveries, and how fingerprints are use in a forensic investigation.  There is an embedded youtube video in the prezi and the powerpoint about IAFIS, the FBI’s database of fingerprints.  The content in the prezi and powerpoint are identical so it is just a matter of choice for the teacher.  So, do you want to use the free prezi or purchase the powerpoint from my TPT store?

Topics include:

  • Fingerprint technology through history
  • Formation of fingerprints
  • Collection of fingerprints
  • Comparison of fingerprint patterns
  • AFIS fingerprint database
Fingerprinting note guide for free prezi Fingerprinting PowerPoint lecture and student note guide

Forensics: Virtual Autopsy Activity

forensics: virtual autopsy activityThis is a great virtual autopsy activity for a Forensics course or unit on pathology or anatomy.  Students visit a website that has 18 different examples of autopsies with lab results for each body system.  Students record all relevant information and then try to determine the cause of death.  This can be used as an introduction to the unit, as an activity within the unit, or even as a great sub plan!  Best part, we don’t have to view a real autopsy!
Here is the link to the website used in the activity:
The following handouts are available from my store for a very low price.  Click here to get the handouts.
Virtual Autopsy Student Handout (MS Word File)
Virtual Autopsy Student Handout (PDF)

My students love this project, even seniors who are nearing the end of their high school days!  Each file is included as both a PDF and Word document so you can customize as needed.  Please comment your questions, suggestions, or successes!

DNA – The Secret of Photo 51

Photo 51The NOVA video The Secret of Photo 51 is a resource that I like to use near the beginning of our study of DNA when we are learning about the structure of DNA. It is a good introduction to the work that went on in discovering the structure of DNA and also gets into ‘What Scientists Do.’

Brief summary of the video:

The Secret of Photo 51 takes us into post-World War II Europe where the race to determine the structure of DNA was heating up. The video describes what Watson and Crick were doing, but focuses on their ‘unknowing collaborator’ Rosalind Franklin. She was using X-ray diffraction techniques to analyze the structure of DNA. It is said that without knowledge of her unpublished work Watson and Crick would not have been able to determine the structure of DNA.

In addition to discussing DNA structure, the following topics become good discussions with this video:

  • What scientists do – the fact that in science your success is measured by what you can publish in scientific journals, and funding for your work is provided based on both your past work and your ideas
  • How life has changed for women scientists – Rosalind Franklin was not treated well, or as an equal, by the men that she was working with at the time
  • Scientific press vs. popular press (in terms of Watson’s book)
  • The Nobel Prize – I like to describe it as winning the Superbowl of science!

The video is 1 hour long and is available through the PBS store or your library. For more information about the film visit the PBS website:

I have created a video guide with questions for students to fill in as they watch this film.  If you are interested in the handout it is available through my Teacher Pay Teachers store by clicking here: