Who's The Culprit?

Evelyn Williams John Hope Academy
5515 S. Lowe Ave.
Chicago IL 60621
(312) 535-3160


This activity is suitable for the students in grades 4th thru 12th. Students
will be able to use science process skills to:
1) Identify the pattern of each of their fingerprints;
2) Become familiar with the process of fingerprinting;
3) Formulate a hypothesis regarding the identity of a suspect based on
fingerprint information.

Materials Needed:

wide transparent tape ceramic cup
pencils magnifying glass


Part 1 To get attention, make a loud sound - sirens sound. Create a mystery - one fingerprint left as evidence. Discuss the uniqueness of people leading to the fact that fingerprints are the only total uniqueness that people possess. Compare and contrast pictures of twins. Each student will carry out the following steps to create his own fingerprint card. 1. Use a pencil to shade in the square on a piece of scratch paper or worksheet. 2. Rub the pad of your finger over the darkened area until it is darkened. 3. Carefully, press a piece of tape over the darkened area of your finger, being very careful not to smudge the print. 4. Remove the tape and place it in the appropriate box on your "Unique You" worksheet. 5. Repeat with each finger and darken the area with the pencil again between each printing. 6. Use a magnifying glass to classify each print as a whorl, loop or arch. ______________________________________________________________________________ "UNIQUE YOU" WORKSHEET Right Hand 1 Thumb 2 Index 3 Middle 4 Ring 5 Little Print Classification _________ _________ ________ ________ ________ Left Hand 10 Little 9 Ring 8 Middle 7 Index 6 Thumb Print Classification __________ _________ __________ _________ _________ Part 2 Divide the class into groups of four to five students each. Each group will receive a coffee mug and a blank reference fingerprint card for each person in the group. Each person will make a print of his/her thumb or index finger (group decision) and place it on the reference card. One person will make and additional print and put it on the coffee mug. Each group will trade coffee mugs and fingerprint reference cards with another group. The groups will work together to: A) Classify the print on the mug as whorl, loop or arch; B) Compare the print to those on the reference card and identify whose print is on the mug; and C) Report your findings to the class to see if your identification was correct. Part 3 Graph Make a class profile of the right hand of each member of the class. Are there more loops, whorls or arches? As an additional exercise, make a class profile to compare and contrast the prints of the right and left hands. Assessment:

Lift a fingerprint from their own finger.
Classify it as arch, whorl, or loop.
Match a mystery print with previously lifted print.


Mystery At The Museum- Imaging: The Tools of Science, Museum of Science and
Industry, Chicago, IL
AIMS Activities that Integrate Math and Science, AIMS Educational Foundation

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