Crime Scene Investigation

We gasped when we saw the computer lab door covered in yellow caution tape! We wondered what was wrong. Our teacher told us that we will be using the forensic skills that we learned over the last two weeks to solve a crime which occurred in the computer lab.

One of the first skills we learned was to read fingerprints. Did you know that there are four types of fingerprints and no two are the same, like snowflakes? Arch, Loop, Whorl and Composite. We fingerprinted ourselves and analyzed the prints to determine the type.

Next, we practiced observation skills by examining items and identifying how they were the same or different. In groups we were assigned a physical quality, such as, pointy, green, or light-weight. Our assignment was to find and collect objects outside, with that particular attribute. Each group displayed their items. We rotated around to each groups’ objects and tried to identify the characteristic of each set of items. These activities help us become much more observant; a skill needed by forensic scientists.

Fifth grade students analyzing DNA.The crime: a quarter eaten ice cream sandwich. Who took the bite? Well, Mrs. Power’s class was on the job! We separated into groups. We knew the suspects were the 5th grade teachers and assistants. There were many stations of evidence to examine such as… lip prints, hair traces, fingerprints and handwriting samples. Each student had a choice of which area to embark on, but each student worked at all of the stations in the end. Every kid in the class had a sheet to fill out with who they thought the culprit was and the reasons. The evidence revealed that the culprit was … drum roll … Mrs. Angelus!

It was surprising to learn forensic scientists help solve cases which include theft, larson (fire), counterfeit, forgery, robbery and abduction. We had the opportunity to work with an individual who teaches Forensic Science. We spoke with Katie, a staff member at Lincoln Labs, who came to Chickering School to work with students in the science of forensics. Katie said that the average amount of crimes a scientist works on a month is about 2 to 3. The most enthralling assignments, according to Katie, were the ones involving abducted people or stolen items. “You see the person that you’re helping or saving,” said Katie.

She thinks the hardest crimes are the ones when you don’t have much evidence, when people are hiding the evidence or when the evidence is contaminated. It may even take years to find all the evidence. It is also frustrating when you don’t know the motive or why, even if you solve the crime. Katie said that being able to solve the puzzle is why people work night and day non-stop to find the solution. Katie hopes that at least one student will be inspired to be a forensic scientist or a C.S.I. agent.

We thought this science unit was fun, interesting and educational because we learned the scientific method by using it to solve a crime, even if it was a fake one.

Reported by Stephen and Marley