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A Case of Murder
A Forensic Science Unit

Submitted by Thea Sinclair

St. Stephens High School
Catawba County Schools

Table of Contents


Introduction

The purpose of this unit is to expose high school biology students to the biology lab skills commonly used during a forensics investigation. Through this unit of study, students will acquire the lab skills of observation, microscopy, chromatography, and DNA gel electrophoresis (commonly referred to as DNA fingerprinting). They will also work in cooperative groups and prepare logical conclusions based on data.

Students are commonly exposed to crime situations by the media, both of a fictional and real nature. However, the methodology used by law enforcement personnel is usually an enigma to these students. By becoming involved in a simulated crime scene, they will see how the biology lab skills they have already learned can be applied in a law enforcement career.

This unit could be used in a high school biology class of any level. It also could be used in a chemistry, physical science or anatomy/physiology course. In a general biology course, it would be best to introduce this unit late in the first semester after the scientific method, cells, microscopy, DNA and genetics have been studied. The unit described here could be accomplished in four one-hour periods or three 90-minute classes.

Acknowledgment:

I would like to thank Chief Floyd Lucas of the Hickory Police Department for allowing me to intern at the police department during the week of July 8, l996 as part of the JobReady grant program. I also want to express my appreciation to Major Wayne Sumpter and all of the men and women of HPD who answered my questions and exposed me to criminal investigative techniques. Support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center's Education Mini-Grant Program made the purchase of the PCR Forensic Simulation Kits possible.




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