All Resources

Crime Fighters

In this activity, the class is assigned a crime to solve based loosely on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Students will experience how forensic techniques are used to collect and process evidence to identify a culprit. With the aid of the Case Book provided, students gather and record evidence from tool marks, fingerprints, handwriting, hair samples and shoe impressions to confirm the identity of the culprit. 

Case: Goldilocks and the Three Bears—A tale of Breaking and Entering
After a weekend trip to the city, the Grizzly family arrived late to their cottage home to find it had been vandalized. Upon entering their home, the family found their living quarters in a shambles. Their furniture was upended, food was scattered everywhere, and there was graffiti on the walls. As the family walked through their home, theyfound their son’s chair broken and bowls of porridge left half-eaten in the kitchen. Hearing a noise, Mr and Mrs Grizzly rushed upstairs to catch a glimpse of the vandal as she jumped out of the bedroom window, landing safely in the Grizzlys’ garden before running off into the night. Police arrived shortly after this encounter and proceeded to collect statements, take photos and gather evidence. 

Police searched the surrounding area and compiled a list of suspects matching the description given by the Grizzly family.

Activity Stations:

1 - Tool Mark Analysis
2 - 
Fingerprint Identification
3
 - Handwriting Analysis 
4 - 
Hair Sample Analysis
5- 
Shoeprint Identification

Objectives

  • Carefully compare, analyze and record various types evidence (shoe prints, tool marks, handwriting, fingerprints, and hair/fibre) to infer a likely suspect.

Materials

  • Per Student:
    1 Crime Fighter’s Case Book
    pencil

  • Per Station:
    evidence to be examined (See each activity link for details for each station)

Background

Forensic science is a broad discipline divided into numerous subfields, all of which work together to collect, prepare, analyze and present scientific evidence in criminal investigations. Forensic scientists use various techniques to accurately recreate and establish the order of events that led to a crime. The physical evidence, meticulously gathered through applying the scientific method, is then used in the court of law to prove someone’s innocence or guilt.

In these activities, students practise scientific methods in the forensic field, and gain an appreciation of the use of science in both the field and the laboratory to solve crimes.

Vocabulary

dactyloscopy: Fingerprint identification based on comparing and classifying the unique patterns of individual fingerprints.

forensic science: The application of science to law. There are many subfields of forensic science but all aim to find out facts about a criminal case through the application of scientific analysis.

friction ridges: The raised portions of the skin on fingers and toes, the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot. The pattern of friction ridges on our fingers is what creates fingerprints.

impression evidence: A cast created when an object is pressed into a material with enough force to make an impression of the object. Tire tracks and footprints are examples of this type of evidence.

latent: Present but not visible or otherwise “active”.

Locard’s exchange principle: “With contact between two items, there will be an exchange”. This basic law of forensic science assumes that perpetrators of crimes will always leave behind evidence of themselves at the scene, as well as take something with them that can also be seen and used as evidence.

trace evidence: Any material left at a crime scene, resulting from contact between two surfaces (e.g. shoes and soil, hair and a couch).

Other Resources

Virtual Museum of Canada | SFU Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology | Investigating Forensics

Vancouver Police Museum

Adventures of Cyberbee | Whodunnit | Crime Scene: The Case of the Barefoot Burglar