Forensic Science Class Assignments


FRNSC 210: Essential Practices of Forensic Science


The content of this syllabus is subject to change. An email notification will be sent with any updates.

Course Instructor

Dr. Jack Hietpas
Instructor/ Assistant Professor

  • 329A Whitmore Laboratory
  • University Park
  • Email: Please use Canvas email system.
  • Phone: 814-863-5260
  • Office Hours: no regular hours 
    • Online: Canvas email or conference by appointment
    • At UP: available by appointment

Course Manager

Course Assistants

Course Information

See the following Canvas website for course content and delivery:


You should have completed FRNSC 100 (Introduction to Forensic Science), CHEM 110, and CHEM 111 which are the prerequisite courses for FRNSC 210. You should also be familiar with Penn State’s online course delivery system. This course is offered online only and accessible via CANVAS. Successful completion of FRNSC 210 is required before entrance into the remaining Forensic Science major courses. This course is designed to prepare students for entry into the undergraduate forensic science program by providing theory and knowledge essential to success in the 400 level forensic science courses and in the profession of criminalistics/forensic science. The associated skills and abilities will be further developed in later courses of the forensic science program. In this course, students will learn essential principles of criminalistics. The necessity of an objective, rigorous scientific approach in forensic investigation will be stressed.


The course is broken into two major sections:

  • Part 01 - Ethics, accreditation/certification, observation, documentation, and communication
  • Part 02 - Light, optics, microscopy, and photography. These topics will be utilized in your professional career as well as further explored during your forensic science curriculum at Penn State.


Academic Integrity

All Penn State policies regarding ethics and honorable behavior apply to this course and each student must abide by the Academic Integrity policies set forth by the University Faculty Senate (Policy 49-‐20: Academic Integrity) and the Eberly College of Science. Academic dishonesty is not limited to simply cheating on an exam or assignment. The following is quoted directly from the “PSU Faculty Senate Policies for Students” regarding academic integrity and academic dishonesty: “Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception and is an educational objective of this institution. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarizing, fabricating of information or citations, facilitating acts of academic dishonesty by others, having unauthorized possession of examinations, submitting work of another person or work previously used without informing the instructor, or tampering with the academic work of other students.” All University and Eberly College of Science policies regarding academic integrity/academic dishonesty apply to this course and the students enrolled in this course. It is your responsibility to be thoroughly familiar with all policies and sanctions. They can be accessed at:

While discussion of course concepts and cooperative study are strongly encouraged, any collaboration, discussion, assistance, cheating (use of friends, books, notes, the internet, etc.) and plagiarism, etc., are NOT permitted during quizzes, examinations or any other assignments unless otherwise specified in writing by the instructor. All exam answers must be your own, and you must not provide any assistance to other students during quizzes homework, or exams. Any collaboration, discussion, assistance, cheating (use of friends, books, notes, the internet, etc.) about or during a quiz, examination, exercise, homework, assignment, or commit plagiarism or other unethical or dishonest behavior, will result in failure of the quiz, examination, exercise, homework, and/or assignment and may lead to failure of the course and University disciplinary action. Integrity violations become part of your record. Integrity and ethics are considered exceptionally important by the instructor and course assistants. You are entering a profession where your integrity is of paramount importance and cannot be suspect in any way. Do not think lying, stealing, or cheating will be tolerated. Do not tolerate this in other students in the forensic science program – report it. The sanctions will depend on the offense severity. No credit on the quiz, exam, exercise, homework, assignment, or other class assignment and may range to include failure of the course. Ethics violations become part of the academic record.

Each student in this course is expected to work entirely on her/his own while taking any quiz or exam, to complete exercises or other assignments on her/his own effort without the assistance of others unless directed otherwise by the instructor, and to abide by University and Eberly College of Science policies about academic integrity and academic dishonesty. Academic sanctions are determined and assigned by the instructor or by the instructor together with the College Academic Integrity Committee. Disciplinary sanctions may be recommended by the instructor, the College Committee, or the Associate Dean, and are assigned by the Office of Judicial Affairs. The XF grade is a disciplinary sanction that is only assigned with the concurrence of the instructor, the College of Academic Integrity Committee, and Judicial Affairs.

Code of Mutual Respect

The Eberly College of Science Code of Mutual Respect and Cooperation embodies the values that we hope our faculty, staff, and students possess and will endorse to make The Eberly College of Science a place where every individual feels respected and valued, as well as challenged and rewarded.

Disability Policy

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. If you have a disability-‐related need for reasonable academic adjustments in this course, contact the Office for Disability Services (ODS) at 814-863-1807. For further information regarding ODS, please visit the Office for Disability Services Web site at

To receive consideration for course accommodations, contact ODS and provide documentation. See the documentation guidelines at

If the documentation supports the need for academic adjustments, ODS will provide a letter identifying appropriate academic adjustments. Please share this letter and discuss the adjustments with your instructor as early in the course as possible. You must contact ODS and request academic adjustment letters at the beginning of each semester.


This course will prepare students in the fundamentals of criminalistics and forensic science, including the basic knowledge required to:

  • Perform observations and documentation
  • Describe the nature and origin of physical evidence
  • Communicate difference of accreditation and certification and their importance of each in the lab
  • Capture and preserve the physical evidence record by documenting observations using techniques that include measurements, notes, sketches, and photographs
  • Describe federal rules of evidence and their importance for the expert witness
  • Write or evaluate reports according to accreditation standards
  • Explain foundational theories of light and optics used in photography and forensic microscopy
  • Communicate results of analyses, examinations, and interpretations

 The primary aim of the course is to prepare students for in-depth courses in criminalistics and forensic science using an intensive, problem solving style as well as through reading, use of interactive websites, practical exercises, homework, quizzes, and exams.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of FRNSC 210, the student will be able to:

  • Communicate Kirk’s philosophy of criminalistics and the importance of scientific philosophy in criminalistics
  • Describe the purpose of professional organizations within forensic science
  • List several professional organizations including several accrediting bodies
  • Explain the terms of and organizations for quality assurance, quality control, accreditation, proficiency testing, ASCLD, and ASCLD-LAB
  • Demonstrate the required ISO/IEC 17025 and ASCLD-LAB criteria for taking notes at a crime scene or in the laboratory
  • Perform various measurement methods used at crime scenes and on evidence in the laboratory
  • Describe accuracy, precision, uncertainty of measurement, and margin of error
  • Document observations using techniques that include measurements, notes, sketches, and photography
  • Explain the proper preparation and maintenance of case folders
  • Describe the importance of evidence integrity and chain of custody, and demonstrate its use
  • Explain resolution and magnification in visible light images including calculating focal length
  • Ask the right question for the case
  • Describe different microscopes and their uses in a crime lab including advantages and limitations
  • Describe fundamental theories of light, microscopical illumination, image formation, and aberrations of optical lenses and their corrections
  • Explain the use of and relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO in capturing a properly exposed image
  • Describe color temperature and how it affects a captured image and the apparent color of an object
  • Explain proper exposures for different lighting conditions
  • Describe and employ proper methods for communication of results of analyses, examinations, and interpretations


The following summarizes the expectations for this online course:

The Instructor will:

  • Provide clear and concise information on all assignments and assessment methods through weekly taped lectures and email correspondence
  • Respond to queries within 24-48 hours via email
  • Treat all students fairly and respectfully
  • Do everything reasonably possible to facilitate learning
  • Uphold the level of academic excellence expected of all Penn State faculty
  • Conduct her/himself respectfully in online discussions and contribute constructive relevant knowledge

The Course Assistants will:

  • Respond to queries within 24-48 hours
  • Treat all students fairly and respectfully
  • Act as a liaison for the students and instructor for general requests and concerns
  • Immediately contact the instructor if they are unable to adequately address a student’s question or concern
  • Conduct themselves respectfully in online discussions and contribute constructive relevant knowledge

The Students will:

  • Be actively engaged in the course by reading and using the required textbooks and online resources
  • Read course material assigned before engaging in homework, quizzes, exams, or exercises
  • Be actively engaged in the course by interacting with the instructor, CA, and online classmates (when permitted)
  • Communicate to instructors and CA via Canvas email
  • Ask questions and/or ask for help if they do not understand a concept/topic/assignment/directions
  • Attend voice thread sessions
  • Be expected to be proactive and take responsibility for their education by reading ahead of anticipated material
  • Be expected to maintain the highest levels of academic integrity, honesty, ethical behavior, and honor throughout the course
  • Be familiar with the University and ECoS academic integrity policy
  • Be expected to complete and submit all assessments by the date specified by the instructor or course assistant(s)
  • Be expected to immediately notify both the instructor and your course assistant via email and/or Canvas if an unavoidable emergency prevents the timely submission of an assignment or completion of an assessment. The instructor will determine what constitutes an unavoidable emergency.
  • Understand that late, incomplete, or missing assignments and/or incompletion of assessments will adversely affect their grade
  • Conduct themselves respectfully in online discussions and contribute constructive relevant knowledge
  • Be expected to complete quizzes and examinations alone, individually, without assistance from other individuals or resources, including notes, textbooks, electronic or digital or online resources, or other means of communication, etc.
  • Be expected to submit her/his own work unless the instructor permits collaboration


This table contains the minimum number of points a student must earn to achieve a particular letter grade in the class.

 PercentMinimum Number of PointsLetter Grade
<601691 or lessF

Late Work Policy

Because the student has at least seven (7) days to complete homework, quizzes, and exercises, late submissions will not be accepted for full credit without PRIOR authorization from the Instructor. Extensions may be granted for exigent circumstances if the instructor is informed ahead of time (documentation may be requested) and believes the extension is warranted. Not all circumstances may be considered exigent or worthy of delay by the instructor. Contact the instructor or your course assistant as soon as possible with any issues or concerns or if you have questions.

If no authorization has been granted, late assignments (homework and exercises - NOT quizzes and exams) will have 10% (2 points) taken from the final grade of the assignment for every 24 hours that passes from the due date. For example:

  • If the assignment is due at 11:59pm on Wednesday night and you submit it at noon on Thursday, you will have 10% (2 points) taken off your final grade for the late assignment. If you earn 17/20 for that assignment, your grade will be lowered to 15/20.
  • If the assignment is due at 11:59pm on Wednesday night and you submit it at 12:00am on Friday morning, you will have 20% (4 points) taken off your final grade for that late assignment. If you earn a 17/20 for that assignment, your grade will be lowered to 13/20.
  • For an exercise worth 50 points, it is 5 points off per 24 hours late, 10 points off for 100 points exercises, and 20 points off for 200 point exercises.

Improperly submitted homework and exercises will be considered late until they are resubmitted properly. Your CA cannot grade what they cannot read. Email your CA to check for proper submission of your homework if you are concerned – give them at least 24 hours to respond. Some examples of improperly submitted work include:

  • Blank or incomplete work on the assignment
  • The wrong document was submitted
  • Photos, copies, or scans of the document are too faint or illegible
  • The assignment was emailed to a CA instead of uploaded to Canvas
  • The work was cut and paste into a text box instead of submitted
  • The document submitted is not a Word document or is in an un-openable or corrupted format

If no authorization has been granted, quizzes and exams cannot be made up. You will receive a grade of zero for missing quizzes and exams if you have not received prior approval from the instructor before the quiz or exam window closes.

Course Calendar

*Subject to Change* - You will be sent an email when changes are made

WeekDateLecture Topic*Assigned ReadingExercise/ ActivityExercise/ Activity Due Date
123-AugIntroduction to CriminalisticsPPC Chapters: 1,3, Appendix FEX. #1 Describe Photograph30-Aug
230-AugQA/QC and AccreditationPPC Chapters: 9,10, 12EX. #2 Proper Packaging and Documentation6-Sep
36-SepPreserving the Physical RecordPPC Chapters: 4,5,6EX. #3 Coin Class & Individualizing Characteristics20-Sep
413-SepMetrologyPPC Chapter: 2EX. #4 Dimensional Analysis Problems27-Sep
520-SepIntroduction to Crime Scene InvestigationPPC Chapters: 7, 8EX. #5 Mock Crime Scene11-Oct
627-SepLegal Aspects of CriminalisticsInstructor Provided MaterialsNothing Assigned---------------------
WeekDateLecture Topic*Assigned ReadingExercise/ ActivityExercise/ Activity Due Date
74-OctCommunication of Forensic ResultsPPC Chapter: 11EX. #6 Assessment of Expert Testimony18-Oct
811-OctMid-Term Examination------------------Nothing Assigned---------------------
918-OctFundamentals of Microscopy - 1Instructor Provided MaterialsEX. #7 Broken Toothpicks, cut and torn paper 1-Nov
1025-OctFundamentals of Microscopy - 2Instructor Provided MaterialsEX. #8 Calibration of Microscope8-Nov
111-NovFundamentals of Microscopy - 3Instructor Provided MaterialsNothing Assigned---------------------
128-NovFundamentals of Microscopy - 4Instructor Provided MaterialsEX. #9 Demonstration of Locard’s Exchange Principle29-Nov
1315-NovFundamentals of Photography -1Instructor Provided MaterialsNothing Assigned---------------------
1429-NovFundamentals of Photography -2Instructor Provided MaterialsEX. #10 Understanding ISO, F/# & Shutter Speed13-Dec
156-DecFundamentals of Photography -3Instructor Provided MaterialsNothing Assigned---------------------
FWTBAFINAL EXAM ---------------------Nothing Assigned---------------------

* Additional reading materials will be assigned.  These will be in the weekly reading assignments folder on Canvas.

Assignment of Points

Activity/ ExercisePointsApproximate Percentage
Lecture Wrap-Up Quizzes 14 @ 10 points each1405%
Assigned Reading Questions 14 @ 20 points each28010%
Final Exam50018%
Exercise 1502%
Exercise 2502%
Exercise 32007%
Exercise 41004%
Exercise 52007%
Exercise 61004%
Exercise 72007%
Exercise 81004%
Exercise 92007%
Exercise 102007%
Total Points2820

Midterm and Final Exams

The midterm and final are both worth 500 points. The exams are taken online. Be sure to read the instructions provided for each exam before you begin.

Required Course Materials

 Recommended Reading

  • Langford M, Fox A, Smith S. Langford’s Advanced Photography: The Guide for Serious Photographers. Focal Press - Elsevier.ISBN: 978-0-240-52191-6
  • De Forest PR. Crime Scene Investigation. In: Sullivan LE, Rosen MS, editors. Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement, Volume 1: State and Local. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2005, p. 111-‐116. (ISBN: 9780761926498).
  • De Forest PR. Foundations of Forensic Microscopy. In Saferstein R, editor. Forensic Science Handbook: Volume I. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-‐Hall, 2002. (ISBN: 9780130910585) Chapter 5.
  • Instructor provided reading and websites on CANVAS

Reference Cards
I have created reference cards for many of the units/activities listed below, which are designed to replace the student worksheets and some lab pages for those units. The cards are printed on card stock (back-to-back) and laminated for student use. Students use overhead markers to add notes to the pages as we discuss each lesson and keep them to review for the unit quizzes. (You could also have students record their answers in a lab notebook rather than write on the pages.) At the end of the unit, they clean them off with a wet cloth and turn them in so they are ready for the next class! Less paper wasted and less time copying - a double bonus! In addition, the reference card format will allow special education students (and other students with learning challenges) to focus on the lesson and avoids possible frustration at trying to keep up with the class notes. They will have all the information they need in one place.

Daily CSI Challenges

I start each class period with a warm-up activity targeting forensic science concepts and other skills (observation, problem-solving, etc.) The challenges are in the form of PowerPoint presentations and include spot-the-differences puzzles, mini mysteries, trivia challenges, and vocabulary builders. I have also created several warm-ups that incorporate CSI-related videos that are available online.

Unit 2: Physical Evidence

Introductory Presentation: Power of Evidence: Physical Evidence (PPT)
StudentWorksheet: Physical Evidence Student Notes (PDF)

Reference Card:  Power of Evidence: Physical Evidence Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheet listed above.

Review: Power of Evidence Review (PDF) and Power of Evidence Review Key (PPT)

Quiz: Power of Evidence Quiz (PDF)

Other Physical & Trace Evidence Resources:

Fingerprinting Basics

During this unit students learn how to identify the different fingerprint patterns as well as other details that help investigators match fingerprints. They are able to practice making and lifting prints and are challenged to match unknown and known in the Fingerprint Challenge. I purchased ink pads, black powder, brushes, and other materials to make several kits to allow students to work in small groups. See the list of supply companies at the bottom of this page.

NOTE:  I highly recommend the magnetic fingerprint wands and dust if you have the money available to purchase them. They are less messy than the traditional black powder and fiber brushes.

Presentation #1: Fingerprinting Basics (PPT)
Worksheets: Fingerprinting Basics Student Notes (PDF), My Prints (PDF)

Presentation #2: Science of Ridges (PPT)
Worksheet: Science of Ridges Student Notes (PDF)

Presentation #3: Latent Prints (PPT)
Worksheet:  Latent Prints Student Notes (PDF)

Reference Card:  Fingerprint Basics Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheets for all of the fingerprint lessons.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Fingerprint Guide (PDF) - This one-page handout includes examples for all of the ridge patterns and characteristics discussed in the fingerprinting lessons.

Other Fingerprinting Resources:

Fingerprints Online (PDF) - I use this worksheet after the first presentation. Visit the Forensic Science page at the Kid Zone for the sites.

Fingerprint Challenge (PDF) - Students use their investigative skills to match fingerprint samples.

Fingerprint Analysis (PPT) - I use this activity with my students to analyze the distribution of fingerprint patterns in each class. After students complete the My Prints worksheet and classify their prints, they complete the top section of the Fingerprint Analysis worksheet. We calculate the percentages for each pattern and discuss how it relates to the expected percentages presented in class. We also analyze the distribution of patterns for males vs. females and discuss the results after students have completed the bottom section of the worksheet.

My Toe Prints worksheet (PDF) - Students are always interested in examining their toe prints to see how they compare to their fingerprints. Instead of using the incapax from the fingerprint unit, the students create their own "ink" by rubbing pencils on an index card and then pressing it to their toes. They use a piece of clear tape to lift the print and tape it to the correct spot on the worksheet.

Lip Print Activity (PDF) - Thanks to Dina Sbarra for sharing her lip print mystery activity. Shewent around the school and got lip marks from several teachers at her school on paper and then put them in sheet protectors. She  had one teacher also mark their lips on a plastic cup (the criminal that destroyed her room). She toilet papered my room and the students had to find out who did it. She put the lip prints on the screen so they could look at the various types to help them classify the lip prints and identify the one from the culprit.

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Impression Evidence

I use this presentation to introduce the topic of impression evidence and then students investigate tire tracks, tool marks, and shoe prints.

Introductory Presentation: Impression Evidence (PPT)
Worksheet: Impression Evidence Notes (PDF)

Reference Card:  Impression Evidence (PDF) - This handout replaces the student worksheet for the introductory presentation and may be used as a guide for the challenges listed below.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Tire Tracks Challenge (PDF) - This lesson idea was submitted by Sandy Powell, a member of the Middle School Science Yahoo Group. The activity challenges students to match tire tracks of 8-10 small toy cars. Teacher information, a student worksheet, and a sample page of my challenge are provided in the download.  A PowerPoint is available to introduce the activity and challenge.

Tool Marks Challenge (PDF) - This activity challenges students to match tool impressions from a set of 12 tools. Teacher information and a student worksheet are provided in the download. Also available ... my challenge page and a PowerPoint to introduce the activity and challenge.

Bite Mark Evidence (PDF) - This activity allows students to practice making and analyzing bite mark impressions using stryrofoam plates and a variety of soft candy. This activity goes along with the material presented in the introductory presentation listed above.   A PowerPoint is available for this activity.
NOTE:  As with any lab involving food, be aware of any food allergies that may be a concern with your students. 

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Hairs & Fibers

Hairs & Fibers (PPT) - I use this presentation to introduce the use of hairs and fibers as evidence. This unit includes an "up close" look at hairs and fibers using microscopes and an assortment of prepared slides. At the end of the lesson, I have students complete the Hair & Fiber Challenge to test their ability to identify various samples.

Hairs & Fibers Note Worksheet (PDF) - Student worksheet for the presentation.

Reference Card:  Hairs & Fibers (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the student worksheet for the presentation.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Hair Lab Worksheet (PDF) - Students examine their own hair sample as well as other animal hairs to complete this worksheet.

Hair & Fiber ID Lab Worksheet (PDF) -Students use microscopes to draw pictures of 6 hair and 6 fiber samples.
NOTE: I created slide sets of 9 animal hairs and 6 fibers for students to use for this activity. A worksheet for this number of samples is also available.

Hair & Fiber Challenge (PDF) - I used my microscope camera to capture images of the various hairs and fibers the students observed in class. I printed several sets of this worksheet on card stock and laminated them to keep them for future classes. I challenge the students to use their notes and observation pages to identify each one.

Reference Cards: 
Blood Basics Card w/ Blood Typing Lab - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheets for the first two presentations and blood typing lab.
Bloodstain Science Card with Blood Spatter Lab - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheets for the Bloodstain Science presentation and lab.
Blood Basics & Bloodstain Science Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout goes with the Blood Basics, Blood Typing, & Blood Spatter presentations. It does not include the lab sheets - you will need to print those out separately.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Review: Blood Basics Review (PDF) and Blood Basics Review Key (PPT)

Quiz: Blood Basics Quiz (PDF)

Other Resources for Blood Evidence:

Blood Basics Online (PDF) - I use this worksheet after the first presentation to reinforce the topics discussed and reinforce the concepts in blood typing after we've done the classroom blood typing lab. The sites are listed on the Forensic Science page at the Kid Zone

Also available ... Blood Typing Booklet - Thanks to Christina Beatty for sharing her booklet that she uses with her students to help them understand blood typing.
Materials:  Blood Typing Booklet, Booklet Cut-Outs, and Booklet Key

DNA Evidence

During this unit students learn about DNA and its use in forensic science. After discussing the information on the reference card, students create DNA keychains, which are used for an identification activity in which students have to match their keychains with a paper model. Other lessons and activities are listed below.

Presentation:  DNA Evidence (PPT) 
Reference Card:  DNA Evidence (PDF)
Student Worksheet: 
DNA Evidence (PDF)

Other Resources:

PBS Learning Media - Forensics - A great lesson with links to additional project ideas from their archives. Use their site search to find a wealth of resources!

Who Ate the Cheese - Students simulate electrophoresis and DNA fingerprinting to solve a crime.

DNA Resources - Check out the collection of links available at the site for activities investigating DNA.

Also check out the online activites and information on the Forensic Science page at the Kid Zone.

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Reference Card:  Forensic Entomology Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheet for the entomology lesson.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Online Lessons & Resources for Forensic Entomology:

Crime Solving Insects (PDF) - This unit from the 4-H organization provides a wealth of information for teaching forensic entomology.
1 - I have developed a PowerPoint presentation, activity card (notes on front & lab page on back), and case cards to go along with this unit. I set up 6 "evidence" packets for each of the four cases - pipe cleaner samples of "maggots" and "pupae" along with a case card. I laminated the activity cards and students will use overhead markers to record their data and write the answers to the questions.
2 - I also did the optional activity outlined in the unit over the summer to provide real maggot and pupa samples for the students to examine as we disscussed the Forensic Entromology PPT. I collected a variety of maggots (species and sizes) as well as pupa and preserved them in glass vials with 50% isopropyl alcohol.

Forensic Entomology Unit - An excellent resource for junior high and high school students; includes background information, case studies, and a game involving forensic entomology.

Visible Proofs: Entomology in Action - This lesson introduces students to the blow fly's life cycle and the accumulated degree hour (ADH) used by forensic entomologists for estimating the time of death.

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Unit 4: Forensic Anthropology

During this unit, students learn to identify the main bones in the human body as well as investigate the role of forensic anthropologists in crime solving.  The presentation includes links to several online videos along with other information and two activities. 

Introductory Presentation: Bone Basics (PPT)

Student Worksheet:  Bone Basics (PDF) & Skeleton Worksheet (PDF)

Activity Materials:
Bag O' Bones
- I purchased sets of bones from an online company for use with this activity.  You will also need large butcher paper. 
Bone Challenge - I prepared several sets of the skeleton cut-outs.  You will also need blindfolds for the students and timers.

Other Resources:

Kids Discover - Bones Magazine - A great resource available from the Kids Discover store that provides a good background of information about bones, joints, and much more.  I purchaed a set of 15 for the students to use in pairs and created a worksheet to use with the magazine.

Unit 5: Arson Investigation

Through the help of our local fire department, students explore the basics of fire science and arson investigation. I also include lessons on fire safety and reinforce the fact that playing with fires can cause major damage and deaths. If possible, have a member of your local fire department present a fire safety program for your students.

Presentation: Fire Science (PPT)
Worksheet: Fire Science (PDF)

Reference Card:  Fire Science Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheet for the Fire Science lesson.
Questions about the reference cards? See the note at the top of this page.

Unit Review: Fire Basics Review (PDF) and Fire Basics Review Answer Key (PPT) - Thanks to Christopher Hunter for sharing these materials.
Unit Assessment: Fire Basics Quiz (PDF) - Thanks to Christopher Hunter for sharing this quiz.

Other Resources:
20/20 Arson Investigation (PDF) - Thanks to Dana Long for sharing this video and worksheet that investigates the science of arson investigation. Update 2016:  The video is available at
Flame Test
Flame Test Video at YouTube
Fire Safety Checklist from

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Unit 6: Accident Reconstruction

During this unit students investigate Newton's Laws of Motion to analyze an accident scene to determine the sequence of events that lead up to the accident, explain damage resulting from the accident, and "solve" cases. I use activities from CRASH: The Science of Collisions, which is geared towards the high school level, but several of the activities targeting Newton's Laws can be used at the junior high level. Our district purchased the CRASH kit and I share it with the high school physics teacher. Many of the lessons could also be incorporated into driver's education classes. Use the contact form on their website to see if your high school can receive the program for free! 

Other Resources:
Understanding Car Crashes: It's Basic Physics - Lessons and a DVD are available for $35 from this site. Scroll down the page to find the information.

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CSI Adventure

I developed this geocaching activity for use with the CSI summer camp program at the Smithsonian in DC. For this activity, teams of students use GSP receivers to find 10 "evidence" caches. Each cache contains a cache card with 3-4 questions the students must answer or tasks they need complete. Each cache has a different theme and relate to the material the students investigated during the camp. After a team completes a cache and has all the correct answers, they are provided with a clue card that will help them determine the next waypoint in the adventure.

Teacher Information (PDF)
CSI Adventure Presentation (PPT)
Cache Cards (PDF)
Clue Cards (PDF)
Group Answer Sheet (PDF)
Answer Key (PDF)

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Supply Companies - The links below are provided to give teachers information about the forensic science supplies I use with my classes.

My Supply List - Includes links to the supply companies and item numbers along with the amounts of each I purchased for my classes.

Ward's - A large selection of resources for a forensic science class, including the Forensic Detectives Lab I use in my classes. I also purchase my simulated blood kits from them.

Educational Innovations - Visit the "Forensic Kits" area for the Ward's Forensic Detectives Lab that includes an assortment of materials and the FACES software I use for facial composites. I have also had good luck with their Perfect Ink fingerprint ink pads listed on the "Genuine Forensic & Crime Scene Materials" page.
NOTE:  Use Ultimate Flash Faces as an alternative for the FACES software.

Lynn Peavey - My source for fingerprint brushes and other fingerprinting equipment. Good prices and service!

Cafe Press - My favorite site for CSI t-shirts!

Precision Forensic Testing - Visit this site for an assortment of great kits for your forensic science program.

Mystery of Lyle & Louise - This site offers an assortment of kits to present forensic science concepts in a way your students can enjoy.

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