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Author: karen gaines

By the end of these lessons, students will be able to:

1.  Design a system/strategy for sorting fingerprints.

2. Assess other students' systems/strategies.

3.  Apply a system/strategy to a new case.

4.  Calculate the Primary classification for a set of prints.

5.  Identify (by name) the characterticis of a fingerprint.

6.  Identify (by name) several minutiae for a print.

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Instructor Only - Lesson explanation


Each class period is 2 hours long.  Students will have had some background on fingerprints (history and cases) prior to this part of the unit.  Class time 2 will just be for one hour for this topic with a lab on another subject the second hour.    Class time 3 will hopefully be just for one hour with the second hour being an introduction to the next topic.



            At end of class (or during break), students do their 10 prints (Fingerprint Card) and turn into instructor.  The students will use fake names on the form and put their name on the back of the page (for privacy).

            Show a video clip from the series "Peacemakers".  (This TV series is set in the wild west  in the late 1800's and shows a lot of important 'new' techniques in crime solving.  I know that one of the episodes addresses fingerprints, but I didn't have time to go through all of the episodes to find it for this assignment.  I would like to take the time in the future to watch all of the episodes again and collect clips on the various topics in forensics.)



            Instructor scans prints and posts them online by that afternoon.

            Students look at the 24 sets of prints and work on Scenario 1




            Students are in groups of four (lab tables).  Each group member will share their strategy from Scenario 1.  The group then decides on the best strategy and they are given Scenario 2 to work on using their chosen strategy.






            Students watch Characteristics (               video and Minutia video ( with         built in quizzes (not for grade).

            Students watch Henry System (






            Instructor returns the students' individual Fingerprint Cards, copies of everyone's prints (one set per group of four students), and one crime scene print for each student.

            Students determine the Primary Classification number for their own set of prints (Primary Classification Activity)  and then exchange with another student and check each other's work. Students will be encouraged to look through this activity before class.  In class, students may work on their own or instructor will go through basic instructions.

            Instructor collects all Primary Classification numbers and groups record the numbers on their classroom set.

            Groups look at the information about Henry Classification Sorting and then each individual student completes the Crime Scene Activity.



            Students will take a 15 minute quiz or have an alternative assessment approved by the instructor.


Source: Self generated

Fingerprint Card

Blank card for recording an individual's fingerprints

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Scenario 1

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Scenario 2

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Henry System

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Primary Classification Activity

Students determine the Primary Classification value for their prints and peer review other's work

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Source: Self generated

Henry Classification Sorting

Explanation of how to calculate the Henry Primary Number.

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Source: Self generated

Crime Scene Activity

Assessment for Fingerprint Identification and matching

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Source: Self generated