From film and television to a traditional page - turner, forensic science and Crime Scene Investigation has held wide appeal with young and old alike. With a little imagination, it’s easy to create compelling scenarios and crime scene stories to help with teaching forensic science within a school setting.
The mock homicide of a head teacher is certain to spark students’ imaginations. Compelling scenarios will lead to greater engagement with the subject matter, enabling students to tackle the tricky terrain of new scientific concepts.
Forensic science not only creates interest but also combines biology, chemistry and physics under one broader, interdisciplinary umbrella. From dusting for fingerprints to hair analysis, why not encourage your students to become crime scene investigators?
Stage a murder mystery
Create and conduct a homicide investigation, allowing students the opportunity to enjoy multiple hands-on activities. From hair to soil samples, plant the material to be analysed and encourage students to gather and package the evidence from the crime scene. Props, such as crime scene tape and crime scene suits add to the authenticity of the activity.
With teachers implicated in the murder, students can analyse a hair sample from the crime scene in relation to hair samples from the known suspects. An additional activity may incorporate chemiluminescence in blood stain detection. The gorier the better, students can learn how Luminol is used in crime scenes where there is no visible blood.
Create a kidnapping
An alternative scenario may be that your head teacher has been taken hostage. Select a few teachers as suspects and arrange for the discovery of a ransom note. The suspects’ fingerprints and clothing fabric samples can be provided, along with the pens found in their pockets. The students can then compare the samples with those found at the scene of the crime and with the ink used to write the ransom note.
Students can learn how to make microscope slides by putting fabric fibres onto a small drop of water underneath a coverslip. They can then compare the samples and eliminate suspects accordingly. Similarly, students can help to solve the crime using the ransom note and the forensic chemistry of chromatography. Chromatography can be used to separate the ink on the ransom note and the ink found in the suspects’ pens. Through chromatography experimentation, it may be possible to provide evidence to link the writing on the ransom note to a particular person’s pen.
Solve a cold case
Why not employ basic archaeological methods to unearth a bone from a crime scene set in your school grounds? Once recovered from the crime scene, students can then work with the bone as forensic anthropologists within a laboratory environment. Hands on analysis will allow them to explore the exciting world of anthropology. They can discover the age, race and gender of the victim using a talking bones kit and help to contribute to the identification process.
Have a rummage through your science technician’s store cupboard, you may find your department has some resources readily available for many of these exciting forensic experiments. Alternatively, contact Edulab for everything you need to turn your classroom into a CSI lab.