Teacher s Guide - Feature Showcase. Forensic Science. Grades: 6-8 Content Area: Science

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1 Teacher s Guide - Feature Showcase Forensic Science Grades: 6-8 Content Area: Science Standards Alignment: McRel Level III; Nature of Science 13 National Standards: NS Personal and Social Perspectives Time: Classroom instruction: two to three 45- minute class periods Independent Research: 1-3 weeks Materials: Computers with Internet access; interactive whiteboard Feature Showcase text (online access or printouts) Printouts of Project Ideas for independent research Learning Objectives: Students will research and discuss how professionals use the tools and methods of forensic science to collect and analyze physical evidence for the purposes of the law build background knowledge about forensic science by watching an anchor video and by reviewing key vocabulary terms. work independently to complete one of the following: o a poster that identifies and displays the three basic fingerprint classifications and a set of subcategories within each classification o a pamphlet that lists at least eight careers in forensic science, descriptions of the education needed for each one, and where this education may be obtained o a description of modern biometric technologies and a discussion of their effectiveness in forensic science, law-enforcement, and the general security of the public 1. Building Background Pose the following focus questions: 1. When and why do law-enforcement agencies seek forensic assistance? 2. What happens in a forensic laboratory? 3. What role does technology play in forensics? Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 1

2 Preview the key vocabulary words for this topic. o Autopsy: an examination performed on a dead person to find the cause of death o Ballistics: the science of forward-moving objects, such as rockets or bullets o Database: the information that is organized and stored in a computer o DNA: deoxyribonucleic acid, genetic material found in living things. DNA molecules consist of long chains of four nucleotides: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. These four letters A, C, G, and T spell out our genes. o Forensic: using science to help investigate or solve crimes. A forensic investigation uses fingerprints, blood tests, handwriting analysis, and other clues. o Gene: one of the parts of the cells of all living things. Genes are passed from parents to children and determine how the children look and the way that they grow. o Pathologist: a scientist who conducts autopsies to determine the cause and time of death o Polygraph test: a lie detector test. A polygraph test measures physiological responses to questions. The test subject wears electrodes on the skin and scalp, which transmit physiological responses that are recorded on paper or by a computer. Activate prior knowledge by asking students what they know about forensic science and where they acquired their information. Then pose the following questions and record student responses on the board: o What is the primary job of all crime-scene investigators? o What kinds of clues and evidence can be found at a crime scene? o What does a medical examiner (forensic pathologist) do and why? o What other types of forensic experts may be called on to identify victims when a body is not intact? o What kinds of information are obtained from various databases? Show students the home screen of the Forensic Science Feature Showcase. Introduce the topic to the class and explain that you are going to show a short (2- minute) video about the topic. Tell students that watching the video first will give them information and vocabulary that will help them read about and research the topic later. Write the questions below on the board and ask students to consider them as they watch the video. o What do the police do when they first arrive at a crime scene? o What three facts about a victim does a pathologist try to determine at an autopsy? o What do toxicologists do? o What role do forensic scientists play during a criminal trial? Play the anchor video. When it s over, allow students to volunteer answers to the various questions, and write those answers on the board beneath their respective Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 2

3 questions. If you have time, show the video once more and see if the class agrees with the answers. Tell students that they will use the Feature Showcase to begin an in-depth study of various aspects of Forensic Science. Explain that they can read an article on Forensic Science and then explore the following topics in more depth: On the Scene, In the Lab, Crime Tech, Forensics Careers, and Tell the Truth. Show the students how to view the interactive features, especially the graphical timeline, Forensics Tech. 2. Classroom Activity Probably everyone in the class has watched movies or television shows in which law-enforcement agencies and forensic scientists (e.g., CSIs) apply their skills and knowledge to solve crimes, usually within an hour or two. However, in real life, the work that these forensic scientists perform does not take place within a set time frame. It involves painstaking efforts, which may or may not be successful. Tell students that in this lesson they will learn how real-life lawenforcement professionals and other forensic experts apply different tools and skills to solve crimes and mysteries. Have students work in small groups and use the Internet or other sources to research the study of forensic science. Have them begin their research by answering the question What is forensic science? Give them sufficient time to read the materials and take notes on the various roles and responsibilities of forensic investigators, technicians, and experts, and how they conduct their work at crime scenes, in laboratories, and in courtrooms. After students have completed their research, create a three-column table on the board with the headings At the Crime Scene, Examining the Victim, and In the Laboratory. Then, have each group list the tools and methods within each category that real forensic professionals use to collect and/or analyze evidence. Record their answers in the table. When students have completed reporting on their research, review the entries in the table and have students describe the importance of each one and the procedures that must be followed to guarantee that evidence is preserved. Pose the following questions to encourage discussion: o What do first responders do to secure a crime scene? o What are examples of trace, or physical, evidence? o What happens during an autopsy? o What kinds of instruments or tools do investigators use in the laboratory? o How is DNA analysis used in forensic science? Following this discussion, ask students to make a list of the different specialties within the field of forensic science, including those found in law enforcement, the court system, and the sciences (such as medicine, chemistry, and computer science). Have students discuss the many roles that these professionals play, not only at crime scenes and in laboratories, but also in prosecuting or defending Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 3

4 a suspect at trial. Ask students to give examples of actual court cases in which evidence at trial was used to either convict or exonerate a suspect. 3. Independent Research Assign students one of the following Project Ideas. Either read the goals to the students or provide them with printouts of the projects. Remind the students how to access the Feature Showcase articles online. Project 1: Poster of Fingerprint Patterns Project Goal: Identify and display examples of the three basic fingerprint patterns and include examples of subcategories within each type if possible. Include a short paragraph that describes how scientists and law enforcement individuals collect and use fingerprints to make identifications. Get Started: Consider the following questions as you prepare to make your poster. o What are the names of the three basic fingerprint patterns? o What are the three types of fingerprints that might be found at a crime scene and how are they different? o What is the IAFIS? o What is the advantage of computerized fingerprinting used by most lawenforcement agencies today? Resources: From the Feature Showcase, review the articles listed below to find information you might want to use in your project. o On the Scene (article) o In the Lab (article) o Forensics Careers (article) Project 2: Pamphlet: So You Want to be a Forensic Scientist? Project Goal: Prepare a pamphlet that describes at least eight different careers in the field of forensic science. Include a description of the education that is required for each career and include the names and locations of organizations, schools, and/or universities that provide the type of education necessary to assume the career roles you have described. Get Started: Use these questions to help you design the information to be included in your pamphlet. o How is the field of forensics different from the way it is portrayed on television? o What is forensic odontology? Forensic anthropology? o What roles do forensic engineers play in crime-scene analysis? Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 4

5 Resources: From the Feature Showcase, review the article listed below to find information for use in your project. o Forensics Careers (article) Project 3: Biometric Technology Project Goal: The use of biological traits to recognize humans is called biometrics. Describe at least five current biometric technologies and techniques in the field of forensic science and discuss how valid and effective these technologies are in identifying individuals. Get Started: The following questions may help you organize your thinking as you prepare your report. o What are DNA fingerprints and how effective are they for identification purposes? o How is photography used today in forensic science? o What does a polygraph measure and how reliable is it? Resources: From the Feature Showcase, review the articles and the timeline listed below to find information for use in your project. o In the Lab (article) o Tell the Truth (activity) o Forensics Tech (timeline) When the assignments are handed in, use the checklists below to assess student performance. For Project 1: Poster of Fingerprint Patterns Did students identify the three major classifications of fingerprints (loops, whorls, and arches)? Does the poster include any subcategories within each type of fingerprint? Did students display the information clearly and include labels and captions for their diagrams? Are descriptions about each type of fingerprint coherently and clearly written and free of spelling errors? For Project 2: Pamphlet: So You Want to Be a Forensic Scientist? Did students select and describe at least eight unique careers in forensic science? Did students explain the education required for each career, and list possible organizations or institutions that provide such education? Is the design of the pamphlet useful for someone contemplating a career in law enforcement and forensic science? Is the information legible, well organized, and free of spelling errors? For Project 3: Biometric Technology Does the paper specifically describe recent forensic technologies? Does the paper include examples of a variety of technologies and a discussion of their effectiveness? Is the paper long enough to address the topic in a comprehensive way? Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 5

6 4. Wrap Up Does the paper contain a sufficient number of examples and details, including labeled diagrams as appropriate, to address the topic? Is the writing well organized, grammatically correct, and free of spelling errors? Give all students an opportunity to share their research with the whole class. o For Project 1, have students display the posters they created while taking turns identifying and describing the classification system used in fingerprinting. o For Project 2, have students pass their pamphlets around so that everyone in class can examine them up close. Then ask each student to list the specialties he or she described on the board and take turns explaining what each specialist does, the type of education required, and where it can be obtained. o For Project 3, ask each student to summarize what he or she learned about current biometric technologies and their effectiveness in providing identification both in forensic science and security. Recap the questions that were posed at the beginning of the lesson: o When and why do law-enforcement agencies seek forensic assistance? o What happens in a forensic laboratory? o What role does technology play in forensics? Wrap up by asking one or more of these discussion questions: o Do television shows and movies accurately represent what real-life forensic experts and investigators do? Explain. o Which forensic technique or techniques have had the greatest impact on convicting or exonerating a suspect in a crime? Why? o Should methods of forensic science and technology be extended to include the examination and surveillance of the general public? Why or why not? Scholastic, Inc. TEACHER S GUIDE 6

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