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Investigations in Forensic Science

Lora Danley, M.S. - Chemistry, Physics, Science
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In this middle school science class, learners will be introduced to many of the techniques that forensic scientists use when investigating crime scenes and will practice their analytical skills through mock crime scenes.

Class experience

Beginner Level
15 lessons//15 Weeks
 Week 1
Lesson 1
Introduction to Forensic Science
We’ll discuss the basic definition of forensic science, the types of evidence found at a crime scene, and Locard’s Exchange Principle, and then we’ll practice observational skills.
 Week 2
Lesson 2
Processing a Crime Scene
We’ll talk about the methods used to process a crime scene and why they are important.
 Week 3
Lesson 3
We’ll look at the basic fingerprint types and the additional ridge patterns that help identify a fingerprint. We’ll take and analyze our own prints and then “lift” a fingerprint.
 Week 4
Lesson 4
Blood Typing and Blood Spatter Analysis
We’ll look at different blood types and blood spatter patterns and talk about how they can help forensic scientists analyze a crime scene. We’ll then practice blood typing and analyzing spatter patterns using dry labs.
 Week 5
Lesson 5
We’ll learn about bullet cartridges and see how spent bullet cartridges can help crime scene investigators and see how the approximate location of the shooter can be calculated from bullet holes.
 Week 6
Lesson 6
Forensic Anthropology
We’ll learn all about bones and see what they can tell us about a person.
 Week 7
Lesson 7
Hair and Fiber Analysis
We’ll take a look at the structural features of hair and fine and see how they can help in identification of a criminal.
 Week 8
Lesson 8
DNA Fingerprinting
We’ll learn about DNA and then we’ll extract our own DNA from our saliva. Afterward, we’ll see how DNA is used in forensic science to identify a criminal.
 Week 9
Lesson 9
Tool Marks, Castings, and Impressions
We’ll take a look at marks and impressions left at the scene of a crime and see how they can help forensic scientists during an investigation.
 Week 10
Lesson 10
We’ll take a look at the analysis of powders and other chemicals that might be involved in a crime and then we’ll perform a simple analysis using household chemicals.
 Week 11
Lesson 11
Glass Evidence
We’ll take a look at how glass fracture patterns and differences in glass density can help in the crime scene analysis.
 Week 12
Lesson 12
Handwriting and Document Analysis
We’ll take a look at how handwriting and document analysis is used in a crime scene investigation and then take a crack at analyzing handwriting samples.
 Week 13
Lesson 13
Ink Chromatography
We’ll talk about how chromatography is used in the analysis of a crime scene and then we’ll perform a simple experiment to separate the pigments from markers and look at the calculations involved to determine if a pigment is the same from marker to marker.
 Week 14
Lesson 14
Mock Crime Scene
Students will work together to analyze the clues and interview witnesses and suspects to determine which suspect is guilty.
 Week 15
Lesson 15
Mock Crime Scene and Case Studies Discussion
We’ll finish up the mock crime scene and determine the culprit and then also discuss some case studies where the learned techniques were actually able to help catch the criminal.
  • Students will learn the basic techniques of forensics science and will practice thinking in an analytical manner as they examine evidence during each class and use clues to determine the culprit in the mock crime scene.
I have taught forensics science in person to rising sixth grade students through a gifted and talented program, and I have also taught the subject online to a group of middle school students from an independent school.  
Homework Offered
An optional outside learning activity will be provided for 12 classes when we are studying forensics science techniques. Students will complete those projects individually if they so choose. Each activity should take 1-2 hours at most. Students will be working together in class to solve the mock crime scene and to discuss the case studies.
1 - 2 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Grades Offered
To request a letter grade for a learner, the learner or the learner's parent or guardian should contact me during the first week of class. Requirements for a grade are to complete six of the at-home projects of the learner’s choosing, and a final project to be approved by the teacher. Suggestions for appropriate final projects will be given, or the learner may propose one of their own.
For the second class and beyond students should have copies of the print-outs from the worksheet booklet that I will provide plus a writing instrument.  In addition the following materials will be needed for class.  It is always best if students are able to do the hands on activities, but if they are missing materials, I will also be doing the activity as a demo while guiding students through it, and thus they can look on while I do the activity.

Class 1:
sheet of paper plus pen or pencil

Class 2:
Piece of 8.5" x 11" paper plus a paper clip or other small object

Class 3:
piece of paper
graphite pencil
magnifying glass
clear tape
white notecard or paper
mirror or dark, nonporous surface
baby powder and tray to brush it into
small soft paintbrush or makeup brush (soft camel hair or fiber glass)
sheet of dark-colored construction paper

Class 4:

Class 5:

Class 6:

Class 8:
small clear cup or glass with 2 tablespoons of salt water (made from 1 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 3/4 cup of drinking water, stir to dissolve salt)
dishwashing detergent (enough for a few drops)
small clear cup or glass with 1/2 cup of 70% isopropanol kept in freezer until needed
small spoon
cup of plain water (optional)
dark colored piece of paper (optional)

Class 9:

Class 10:
sheet of white paper
measuring spoons, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon
baking soda
sheet of black construction paper
tray that will fit the black construction paper or can use aluminum foil folded around it
white tape that can be written on or white chalk
magnifying glass
4 small jars or glasses; a ceramic or glass plate would work as well
iodine solution
sunglasses or safety goggles
rubber gloves (optional) 

Class 12:

Class 13
coffee filters cut to size according to the worksheet
cup with a small amount of water in it
several black markers or pens; Crayola black markers work well but Sharpies do not

Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
During the class we will be discussing crime scenes and evidence that may include murder and weapons.  We will look at blood spatter patterns and entrance and exit wounds, however content will be from drawings and no actual images will be used.  Descriptions of the crime will not be overly graphic in detail.  We will also be looking at the anatomy of a bullet, how a gun is able to fire a bullet, and how to determine from bullet holes where the shooter was located.  We will be discussing how bones can determine the age and sex of a victim.  We will look at tool marks from common tools such as a screwdriver and a hammer.  We will discuss toxicology including the identification of poisons and illegal drugs and will work with iodine.  The final mock crime scene will be of a theft of a valuable object.    
I will provide a booklet after the first class with the worksheets for each class as well as instructions for the weekly optional activity.  The worksheets should be printed out before each class and any parts of the workbook that were instructed to be cut out, should be already cut by the time class starts.  
Joined May, 2020
Teacher expertise and credentials
Bachelor's Degree in Science
Master's Degree in Science
Hello!  I have always loved learning, and when I was small I would often request that my mother play school with me.  From there I graduated to playing teacher; I would invent imaginary students and assignments for them which I then graded with... 
Group Class


for 15 classes
1x per week, 15 weeks
60 min

Completed by 37 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 11-14
6-12 learners per class

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