Question Sheet: Crime Lab | Science News for Students

Question Sheet: Crime Lab

Dec 8, 2011 — 8:25 pm EST
SCIENCE

Before reading:

  1. What movies or TV shows have you seen in which science is needed to help solve a crime? 
  2. What is forensic science?

During reading:

  1. Jose Almirall says, "There's always evidence left behind." What does he mean? 
  2. When was the first recorded reference to forensic science? 
  3. How is forensic science dependent on both technology and cleverness? 
  4. Why is understanding decomposition important in forensics? 
  5. How is forensic anthropology different from forensic biology? 
  6. What resources does airport security have to check a person for explosives? 
  7. Why does a career in forensic science typically require years of study?

After reading:

  1. Would you want to be a forensic scientist? Why or why not? 
  2. Design a piece of equipment that you think would be helpful to a forensic scientist. Draw a picture of the machine and label its parts. 
  3. How has DNA testing changed criminal prosecutions? 
  4. What types of science are necessary to understand a body decaying in the woods? 
  5. How is forensic science useful in understanding fossils?

SOCIAL STUDIES

Who was Amelia Earhart? Why was she famous? Why is there a mystery surrounding her death? You can learn more about Amelia Earhart at www.ameliaearhart.com/ (Family of Amelia Earhart) and www.ameliaearhartmuseum.org/ (Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum).


LANGUAGE ARTS

  1. Write a description of a murder scene. Show it to a friend and have your friend describe what he or she would do to gather and analyze clues to solve the crime. 
  2. Watch a TV show or movie that involves the use of science to help solve a crime. Write a review of the program or movie. Which parts seemed realistic? Which parts appeared imaginary? What would you change about the show to focus more on the science aspect.

MATHEMATICS

Knowing the height and other physical characteristics of a crime victim can be very useful for identifying the victim. Sometimes, only a few bones are left. It's possible, however, to estimate a person's height from the length of certain bones. For example, the following formula gives a rough idea of a man's original height, h, in centimeters when only a bone called the femur (upper leg bone), F, is available.

h = 69.089 + 2.238 F

If the femur of a 31-year-old male measured 47.7 centimeters, what was his height?