This unit is an introduction to forensic science, and combines fun, hads-on activities with the application of skills from math, science, literacy, art, and technology. Students solve mysteries, learn about the work of forensic anthropologists, and the F.B.I. Students are already familiar with the many crime dramas and reality shows they see on television--these activities are fun for middle school students to explore in pairs and small groups.
Science, Math, Literacy, Arts
Students will learn to communicate information and ideas in ways that are appropriate to the purpose and audience through spoken, written, and graphic means of expression. Students will use information-gathering techniques, will analyze and evaluate informationg, and will use information technology to assist in collecting, analyzing, organizing, and presenting information.
The Internet is an integral part of this project. Students are directed to web sites where they can work independently to gather the information necessary to complete the activities. In this way, the teacher becomes more of a facilitator.
The ideal setup to conduct this project would be a set of laptop computers, enough for students to work in pairs. You will also need a Polaroid or digital camera with a printer. Large chart paper, sketch pads, art supplies, cocoa powder, paint brushes, plexiglass, and scotch tape are also required. Library books on forensic science are also great to have on hand.
LITERACY: Students will read and comprehend informational materials; demonstrate familiarity with a variety of functional documents. SCIENCE: Students will demonstrate understanding of structure and function in living systems; demonstrate understanding of the designed world; demonstrate understanding of health; demonstrate understanding of the impact of technology; demonstrate understandng of the impact of science; works individually and in teams to collect and share information and ideas; record and store data using a variety of formats. MATH: Students will understand the concepts of and become proficient with the skills of mathematics; communicate and reason mathematically; become problem solvers by using appropriate tools and strategies through the integrated study of number sense and operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and statistics and probability.
Students are assessed in a variety of ways, since there are many components to this project. Student posters can be graded following a teacher-designed rubric which evaluates their work by teamwork, accuracy, creativity, and effort.
This unit was part of a Saturday enrichment class I taught over ten weeks during the 2005 school year. The students were a heterogeneous mix of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
Teachers adapting this unit should do some research prior to the unit on Forensic Science. Have a library on the various topics. Visit all the web sites you provide to students in advance--there are many resources for this topic on the web, and you should always know where you send students to look for information.
During their middle school years, students begin to quiestion the relevance of what they are learning, and whether or not college will be in their future. This unit shows students that the skills they are learning today can start preparing them for a great career after college. According to a study by The College Board, careers in Forensic Science are on the rise.
This project contributes to student learning in many ways. Middle school learners often tune out, but this unit pulls them back in. It allows them access to the computers they love, and feels like fun. It allows them to interact with their peer learners, but in a structured way. The poster projects for each activity are an outlet for collaboration and creativity.
Hilary Sedewitch spent 15 years teaching at the elementary school level. Three years ago, she began a new phase in her career with a move to middle school. She is currently teaching math and science to sixth grade students at Intermediate School 230 in Region 4, Queens, New York.