Trial by Science: A Forensic Extravaganzaby: Vanessa Hunt

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This intriguing crime-solving activity for middle level students demonstrates some of the basics of forensic science; including the analysis of fingerprints, hair, fiber, and soil evidence. The realism of the scenario is enhanced by recruiting adult volunteers to serve as suspects that can be questioned and tried by students through the process of scientific inquiry.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:36 PM

This article gives an excellent example of a forensics investigation with all the instructions a teacher needs to present the lesson to a middle or high school class.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:38 PM

The activity described in this article started with an informal museum setup. It involves a typical crime scene but changes the field when live suspects are allowed to be interviewed by live detectives. The finale to this even involves a live trial with evidence presented and the class gets to vote on who did it. The live witness element adds more interest to this activity than most. All aspects of this activity are provided from setup, to interrogation questions to overall procedure. This looks like a good activity which will hold student’s interest.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Mar 29, 2012 9:22 PM

The activity is engaging for students and allows them to use the tools of forensics in an authentic manner. The article contains good information as to the materials needed. I would have liked to have had a more in depth explanation of the actual “crime”, though that could easily be created by you before sharing the activity with the class. Personally, I would put it into a police report format so students have the opportunity to read a technical document for information. The Scilink is greatly appreciated and provides a ton of really useful resources. This resource alone will take you quite awhile to wander through.

Sandy Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandy Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:43 AM

This article explains how a crime scene setup for informal science at a museum translates to a science classroom in a school setting. It reminds me of the GEMS “Mystery Festival” publication. The authors set the scene and explain that larger groups of students are then subdivided into smaller one. The difference in this crime scene event is that there are suspects that ‘detectives’ have to interview. There are guidelines for the evidence and for interviewing the suspects. There is a trial at the finale. All information is provided to initiate, run and conclude this activity. This would be an interesting article for those teachers unfamiliar with forensic science.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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