You Be the Crime Scene Investigator

Shelly Vohra

How does this align with my curriculum?

Students will learn that the world of crime scene investigation (CSI) is one that is highly scientific in nature and has many career paths.

Summary 

  • Students will be introduced to the world of forensics 
  • Students will develop skills related to analysis, problem solving, and communication
  • Students will identify and explore careers related to crime scene investigation (e.g., criminologist, medical examiner, DNA analyst, etc) and relate them to a unit of study in biology (e.g., cell biology, organ systems, medical technologies)
Specific Expectations for Ontario

Grade 8 Science, Strand: Cells:

1.1 assess the role of selected technologies (e.g., the development of the electron microscope, the ability to infuse dyes into cells, in vitro fertilization) in enhancing our understanding of cells and cellular processes

2.6 use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes

Setting the Stage

Shows like CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU, Dateline, and 48 Hours have spawned a great interest in (true) crime and in the science of forensics. Exploring and examining a crime scene requires many higher order skills, including analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. It also requires several people with specialized knowledge and skills (e.g., blood spatter experts, toxicologists, lab technicians, pathologists). These areas of expertise encompass many disciplines, career pathways, as well as post-secondary options. 

This lesson will provide students with an opportunity to explore the many facets of crime scene investigation by examining a variety of crime scenes and going through the process of identifying suspects. As they engage in these activities, they will develop/reinforce knowledge related to a unit of study in biology (e.g., cell biology, organ systems, medical technologies, etc.)

Materials & Preparation

  • Computers or tablets with internet access (1 per student or group of students) 
  • Ability to view a YouTube video
  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Reproducible (1 per student) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Answer Key (for teachers) [Google doc] [PDF
  • Spot the Differences Canada Image [PDF] - can be projected on screen or provided as a paper or e-copy
  • Spot the Differences Canada Answer Key (for teachers) [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Image [PDF] - can be projected on screen or provided as a paper or e-copy
  • What happened in the gazebo? Questions Reproducible (1 per student) [Google doc] [PDF] - provide as a paper or e-copy
  • What happened in the gazebo? Answer Key (for teachers) [Google doc] [PDF
  • Chart paper, post-it notes, pens, pencils, markers, etc. if doing activities in the classroom

What To Do

  • Teachers could have students work through all the components of this lesson as either an introduction to, or summary of, a curriculum unit on cells. Alternatively, teachers could integrate various activities from this lesson throughout the unit. 
  • Teachers could introduce this lesson by asking students if they have seen any of the popular CSI shows on television. Students could be asked: What skills a CSI investigator would need in their work? How is CSI related to science? What careers do they know of that are related to CSI in real life?
  • Teachers should organize students into groups of 3-4 and have them watch the YouTube video: Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Sarah Finch 
Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Sarah Finch (2018) by the City of Fayetteville, NC Government (4:31 min.).

and answer the questions on the Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Reproducible independently. After they have completed the questions, students could compare their answers to the questions with group members. This could be followed by a whole class debrief. 

  • Teachers could then engage students in the following activities to help them recognize the importance of making observations when studying a crime scene: 
    • Provide students with the Spot the Differences Canada image. Have students try as many differences as they can in one minute (there are 11). An answer key is available for teachers in the downloads section. This activity is to assist in students understanding some of the skills required to examine a crime scene. 
Spot the difference Canada
Image from Spot the Differences Canada (Let’s Talk Science using an image by Anastasiia Krasavina via iStockphoto).
  • Teachers could follow this by having students view the image: What happened in the gazebo? for 20 seconds, then provide students with the What happened in the gazebo? Questions. Students could jot down their answers on a piece of paper or on the Google doc. An answer key is available for teachers in the downloads section.
What happened in the gazebo image
Image from What happened in the gazebo? (©Scott Taylor. Used with permission). 
  • Finally have them view the following video and follow the prompt given in the video. Feel free to have a discussion about the video afterwards. 
Selective Attention Test (1999) Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris (1:21 min.).
  • Individually or in groups, have students complete the three Google Forms by going online to find the answers. Each form addresses a specific aspect of CSI. Answer keys can be found in the downloads section.
  1. Crime Scene DNA Scavenger Hunt (or you can download and print this PDF)
  2. Medical Examiner Scavenger Hunt (or you can download and print this PDF)
  3. Forensics Scavenger Hunt (or you can download and print this PDF)
  • Next, teachers could have students work their way through sample cases on the website by starting with the Beginner Case and working their way to the final case (i.e., Case Five). The document CSI: Web Adventures (guide for educators) provides more information on forensics and forensic science needed to solve the cases. 
  • To consolidate and reinforce their learning, teachers could divide the class into two teams and play this Jeopardy game, which draws upon knowledge gained through this lesson.
  • To ensure students recognize the links between the content they are studying, and the skills they develop through their study of science, teachers could engage students in a discussion where they identify a topic from their unit with how it relates to forensic science and CSI. Students could also be provided with a list of skills they develop during their study of science (observation, data collection, data analysis, communication, teamwork, etc.). They could be asked to identify where these skills apply to forensic science and CSI. This could be done as a whole class or in small group discussions.

Let’s Talk Science appreciates the work and contributions of Shelly Vohra from the Peel District School Board in the development of this lesson.

Details

Assessment

  • Teachers could review and provide feedback on student responses to the various online quizzes.

Assessment

  • Teachers could review and provide feedback on student responses to the various online quizzes.

Downloads

  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF
  • Spot the Differences Canada Image [PDF]
  • Spot the Differences Canada Answer Key [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Image [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Questions [Google doc] [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF
  • Crime Scene DNA Scavenger Hunt [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Crime Scene DNA Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Medical Examiner Scavenger Hunt  [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Medical Examiner Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Forensics Scavenger Hunt [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Forensics Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]

Downloads

  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Day in the Life - Forensic Technician Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF
  • Spot the Differences Canada Image [PDF]
  • Spot the Differences Canada Answer Key [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Image [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Questions [Google doc] [PDF]
  • What happened in the gazebo? Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF
  • Crime Scene DNA Scavenger Hunt [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Crime Scene DNA Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Medical Examiner Scavenger Hunt  [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Medical Examiner Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]
  • Forensics Scavenger Hunt [Google Form] [PDF]
  • Forensics Scavenger Hunt Answer Key [Google doc] [PDF]