Fingerprints--2 mini-teaches and a game

Russ Osantowski Carter Elementary
5740 S. Michigan
Chicago IL 60637


The main objectives of this mini-teach are to have K-6 students learn:
how to make and preserve fingerprints,
the basic types (arches, loops, and whorls),
and sub-types (tented arches, ulnar and radial loops with the open
end of the loops pointing toward the arm's ulna or radius bones)
of prints,
to understand the causes and the uniqueness of fingerprints and
to establish rapport with the students at the beginning of the year.

Materials Needed:

for first mini-teach:
pencils, paper and scotch tape.
for the second mini-teach which begins at strategy 7 below:
several feathers or 1 for each child
small jar of talcum powder
small jar of graphite powder
scotch tape
clean, clear, plastic glasses or clean jars (baby food jars are durable and
have many other uses),
black and white construction paper, pre-cut into 2" x 1" rectangles,
plastic straw to serve as a teacher's super-small spoon to spoon out above
powders in portions smaller than the word "no" at one portion per child.


1. For the first mini-teach draw a rectangle on your paper that is
about 2" long and 1" wide.
2. Turn your pencil on its side and color the rectangle as black as you can.
3. Rub the tip of your thumb or the tip of 1 finger on the black rectangle
until it is gray.
4. Put a small piece of scotch tape on the gray area of the finger in a smooth
manner, usually from the tip down or from the first joint up.
5. Holding only the tip of a corner of the tape, peel it off and carefully
put it on the paper. Write down what hand and finger it came from.
6. Instructions to students: "Write your name and room number on the paper.
Take it home tonight to give to your mother.
7. For those who are finished early-- draw your fingerprint patterns and
label the types."

8. For the second mini-teach: instructions to students, "Rub your
finger on your nose for 2 seconds to get more oil on your finger.
9. Do not touch the cup you are going to get until I tell you how. Put one
hand inside the cup to hold it still. Use the other hand to make a
fingerprint on the outside of the cup.
10. Can you see it? Now dust or tap less than 1/2 cm of talcum of graphite
powder on the print.
11. Use the bottom 1/2 of the feather (the part closest to the quill) to spread
the powder evenly over the print.
12. Blow off any excess powder.
13. Take a small piece of scotch tape and put it on print, as in #4 above.
14. Lift off the tape thereby lifting the print.
15. If you used talcum powder, put it on the black construction paper. If you
used graphite powder, put it on white construction paper.
16. Examine the print.
17. Classify it as to type and subtype.
18. Draw your print and label its classification.
19. Tape your print to your drawing."
20. GAME: send a detective(s) out of the room and put a print(s) on one or more
objects. The detective(s) must find the prints and identify the person(s)
to whom they belong.
Performance Assessment:

The grade for the print should be put on or near the print and the grades
for the drawing and the classification should be put on the drawing.
Students will put their drawing in their science portfolios with
their science notes which answer the following questions:

1. Is every print different? Yes.
2. How many prints does the FBI have? 21/2 billion.
3. How many pore holes does a thumb have? 900-1100.
4. Can they be used by measuring their location and number as
additional ways of classifying the prints? Yes.
5. How many sweat and oil gland openings are in a finger? Do some reading.
6. Can you be convicted by the edge of a footprint or a handprint? Yes.


Students will understand that fingerprints are important in solving
crimes, identifying lost and/or dead people and in reuniting relatives.

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