In 2013, the Forensics unit was broken into two two-hour sessions. During week 1, there was one hour of fingerprinting analysis followed by a one hour forensics challenge; during week 2, there was one hour of blood spatter pattern analysis followed by a one hour forensics challenge.
- Students learned that the fingerprints of every individual are unique. Also, students learned about the characteristics of fingerprints, and looked at their own fingerprints and those of their classmates to identify various markings. Students also learned about AFIS, IAFIS, and the Henry Classification System.
- Week 1, Hour 2: Lifting Latent Fingerprints and Forensics Challenge
- Students learned about latent fingerprints and how to collect latent fingerprints. The students practiced lifting techniques and reviewed fingerprint characteristics. In the forensics challenge for week 1, instructors placed their fingerprints on a number of items (coffee mugs, staplers, febreeze containers, etc.). Students divided themselves into teams of 4 and then lifted latent prints from the items. The challenge winners were the team that correctly matched the most number of items that instructors were holding to the instructors.
- Week 2, Hour 1: Blood Spatter
- Students learned about what is blood spatter and about the characteristics of blood spatter, as well as why blood behaves the way that it does. During the second half of the lesson, students used synthetic blood to complete lab activities so that they could see first-hand how blood behaves.
- Week 2, Hour 2: Forensics Challenge
- Instructors set up a crime scene for student teams to investigate. Instructors left fingerprint and blood spatter evidence at the crime scene. Students were asked to use what they learned from the week 1 and week 2 forensics units to identify the number and identity of victims, the number and identity of assailants, and the crime scenario. The challenge winners were the team that most correctly answered those questions.
The second portion of the Forensics unit consisted of lessons in blood-spattering. Students learned about blood (what is it made of, how does it travel, etc.) and about blood spatter. Specifically, students learned about spatter patterns, spines, satellites, viscosity, and how the length and width of blood spatter can be used to determine the angle that blood hit a surface, and by extension, where the blood originated from. The PowerPoint camp instructors used can be accessed here: bit.ly/bloodspatter.
During the 2010 summer camp the campers participated in a bioinformatics program where they created and studied their own tooth impressions, tested their DNA, and fingerprinted around campus to solve an on-campus “burglary”. This bioinformatics portion requires outside materials and equipment that was provided by a separate entity.
To create their own tooth impressions the campers put dental impression paste in mouth trays, and then bit into the paste for about 60 seconds in order to create a solid impression. Then they removed the mouth tray and filled the impression with dental cement. The trays were left overnight to dry, and the next day the girls examine and diagram the unique traits of their teeth such as fillings, chips, and missing teeth. Like dental forensic investigators in the real world, the girls compared their teeth to sample casts and discussed the similarities and differences. Then they examined the “crime scene” tooth impression and compared it to three “suspect” teeth impressions to find the “burglar”.
Next the girls learned how to test their DNA with real laboratory equipment, first they swabbed the insides of their cheeks to get their DNA. Then they isolated their DNA using a centrifuge, cloned it using a special chemical then ran it through the centrifuge again. After the second centrifuge ride the DNA cooled in a refrigerator over night. The next day the DNA was extracted and put into gels, then through electrophoresis the DNA was propelled through the gel creating the famous bands of DNA we often see in crime shows. Then the girls compared the “burglar” DNA to the “suspect” DNA to further investigate the crime.
The last portion of the bioinformatics investigation was the fingerprinting portion. The girls teamed up into groups of four and received fingerprinting kits and the directive to lift fingerprints around campus. After lifting a few prints the girls went back to the lab and studied the characteristics of each fingerprint and compared them to their own. Then they compared the three “suspect” fingerprints to the “burglar” fingerprint found at the crime scene.
At the end of the unit the girls pinpointed the “burglar” using the tooth, DNA and fingerprint evidence.