Forensic Science Lesson Plans

Background: During the 2006-2007 school year I started teaching a 9-week course on Forensic Science as one of our 8th grade activity classes.  Since that time the unit has evolved to include additional topics and activities. In the past three years I have been working on converting all the materials to a digital format while still providing traditional printable materials for those interested. 

UPDATE 1/30/24 - I have incorporated many of the forensic science lessons previously listed on this page into a new digital format, while still keeping printable workshets for teachers who use them.  The PPT files provided for each unit below includes links to the digital notebook for students on the first slide (look in the left-side margin) as well as additional notes for teachers and links to online videos and other resources.  .

CSI Digital Unit - Digital Unit Outline (Draft - work in progress) - This outline follows the digital format in the newest lessons.  It will be helpful for those interested in the concepts covered in each unit as well as a general pacing guide.  The slide numbers in this outline refer to the Google slides in the full digital student notebook.  Each unit has a PPT (or two) with the link to the slides for those specific units along with helpful notes for instruction and links to other resources.

Also available - Supply Companies & Supply List (Updated 2023)

Digital Units Available (Printable materials provided as well)
Crime Scene & Evidence Basics (includes types of evidence)
 Fingerprint Evidence
Impression Evidence
Trace Evdience (including hairs & fibers)
Blood Basics
Forensic Entomology
CSI Unit Final Project (Crime Scene Boxes)

Traditional Units (I will be adding digital versions during the spring of 2024.)
Forensic Anthropology 
DNA Evidence
Arson Investigation
CSI Adventure (Geocaching Activity)


Daily CSI Challenges - Will be updated the summer of 2024 - I start each class period with a warm-up activity targeting forensic science concepts and other skills (observation, problem-solving, etc.) The challenges are in the form of PowerPoint presentations and include spot-the-differences puzzles, mini mysteries, trivia challenges, and vocabulary builders. I have also created several warm-ups that incorporate CSI-related videos that are available online.  Click here to visit the Daily CSI Challenges page ... 

NOTE:  All links previously availble on the Kid Zone are now listed in the Sites for Students area.  Many of them were flash-based activities that are no longer available unless your school allows students to use the Ruffle extension on Chrome.  I will add new resources as I find them to replace the outdated activities. Please provide the links your students need for assignments through your LMS or teacher website.
Back to top

Unit 1: Crime Scene Basics  & Power of Evidence- UPDATED 2024  - I have incorporated all the previous units for crime scenes, eyewitness evdience, and overall evidence review into this unit.

Part A: Crime Scene Basics - During this lesson students learn basic vocabulary associated with crime scene analysis as well as explore forensic careers. 

Part B:  Power of Evidence - For this lesson students explore different types of evidence, such as physical, circumstansial, and testimonial evidence. 

Also available ...

Quizlet Crime Scene & Evidence Vocab Set - Available to use for review at the end of the unit.

Forensic Files - Case Studies - I utilize Forensic Files episodes as well as other media to conduct case studies.  You will find these activities listed with the units on this page with links to the video.  
Thanks to Luann Snider for submitting the Forensic Files Graphic Organizer (pdf) that can be used with any of the Forensic Files episodes.  I also have the Forensic Files Episode Worksheet (pdf) available or digital Google slide version that can be used with any of the Forensic Files episodes.

Classroom Quiz (doc) - Edit the document to ask questions about your classroom that could be answered by your observant students.  I ususally print copies & have them complete the challenge in the hallway.  It's always interesting to see what they think they remember vs. what they really see, which leads into a great discussion on eyewitness testimony.

Forensic Science A to Z Challenge Puzzle (pdf) - Students must use clues to identify forensic science terms and then find them in a "bent word" style word search. They use the letters that remain in the puzzle to figure out a mystery word.

Power of Evidence Puzzle (pdf) - Student use clues and their investigative skills to find terms related to evidence.

Memory Match Game (pdf) - This game challenges a student's ability to remember what they've seen as they examine cards with a variety of patterns on them.  Game rules and pattern cards are provided in the download.

FBI Crime Lab (pdf) - Thanks to Stephanie Vallejo for sharing this worksheet for use with the History Channel's FBI Crime Scene DVD.   Check out my new version of the FBI Crime Lab video worksheet that includes discussion questions (pdf)  for each section.  The DVD is available through the Amazon or the History Channel.  It can also be found HERE.

Power of Evidence Challenge (pdf) - Challenge your students to this word search/scramble using terms discussed in the Power of Evidence presentation.

Christmas Cookie Mystery - Click the link to find this lesson listed on the Chemistry Lessons page to investigate white powders. The lesson can be adapted to fit any holiday in order to be used at other times of the year.

Murder & a Meal (pdf) - Thanks to Camron Stanley for sharing this lab investigating the science of vomit!  The download includes student worksheets and teacher notes.

Back to top

Unit 2: Fingerprint Evidence - UPDATED 2024  - Includes figerprint patterns, ridge characteristics, and latent print evidence

Part A:  Fingerprint Basics - During this lesson students learn how to identify the different fingerprint patterns as well as other details that help investigators match fingerprints. They are able to practice making and lifting prints and are challenged to match unknown and known in the Fingerprint Challenge. I purchased ink pads with hard ink instead of sponges, which worked great! black powder, brushes, and other materials to make several kits to allow students to work in small groups. See my Supply Companies & Supply List for more information.

Part B:  Latent Prints - During this unit students learn how to collect and analyze latent prints. I highly recommend the magnetic fingerprint wands and powder  if you have the money available to purchase them. They are less messy than the traditional black powder and fiber brushes.  See my Supply Companies & Supply List for more information.

Also available ...

Quizlet Fingerprint Evidence Vocab Set - Available to use for review at the end of the unit.

Fingerprint Challenge (pdf) - Students use their investigative skills to match fingerprint samples.

Fingerprint Match - Download the activity files and challenge your students to analyze prints as they play a matching game.  The sample prints could be used as identification practice prior to the game.  Also check out their other Forensic Science materials for more ideas!

Fingerprint Data Analysis (PPT) - I use this activity with my students to analyze the distribution of fingerprint patterns in each class. After students complete the My Prints worksheet and classify their prints, they complete the top section of the Fingerprint Data Analysis worksheet (pdf). We calculate the percentages for each pattern and discuss how it relates to the expected percentages presented in class. We also analyze the distribution of patterns for males vs. females and discuss the results after students have completed the bottom section of the worksheet.

Fingerprint Guide (pdf) - This one-page handout includes examples for all of the ridge patterns and characteristics discussed in the fingerprinting lessons.

My Toe Prints worksheet (pdf) - Students are always interested in examining their toe prints to see how they compare to their fingerprints. Instead of using the incapax from the fingerprint unit, the students create their own "ink" by rubbing pencils on an index card and then pressing it to their toes. They use a piece of clear tape to lift the print and tape it to the correct spot on the worksheet.

Lip Print Activity (pdf) - Thanks to Dina Sbarra for sharing her lip print mystery activity. She went around the school and got lip marks from several teachers at her school on paper and then put them in sheet protectors. She  had one teacher also mark their lips on a plastic cup (the criminal that destroyed her room). She toilet papered my room and the students had to find out who did it. She put the lip prints on the screen so they could look at the various types to help them classify the lip prints and identify the one from the culprit.  


Back to top

Unit 3: Impression Evidence- UPDATED 2024  - Students investigate impression evidence along with class and individual characteristics.  The lesson includes investigations of bite marks and tire tracks.

The following activities have been included in the digtal unit and related student worksheets listed above:

  • Tire Tracks Teacher Notes (pdf) - This lesson idea was submitted by Sandy Powell, a member of the Middle School Science Yahoo Group. The activity challenges students to match tire tracks of 8-10 small toy cars. Teacher information, a student worksheet, and a sample page of my challenge are provided in the download.  

  • Bite Mark Evidence Teacher Notes (pdf) - This activity allows students to practice making and analyzing bite mark impressions using stryrofoam plates and a variety of soft candy. NOTE:  As with any lab involving food, be aware of any food allergies that may be a concern with your students. 

Also available

Quizlet Impression Evidence Vocab Set - Available to use for review at the end of the unit.

Tool Marks Challenge Teacher Information (pdf) - This activity challenges students to match tool impressions from a set of 12 tools. Teacher information and a student worksheet are provided in the download. I have uploaded a sample of my challenge page (pdf) and a PowerPoint teachers can use to introduce the toolmark activity and challenge.

Back to top


Unit 4:  Trace Evdience - UPDATED 2024  - This lesson provides an overview of trace evidence with an "up close" look at hairs and fibers using microscopes and an assortment of prepared slides. At the end of the lesson, I have students complete the Hair Challenge to test their ability to identify various samples. NOTE: I will be adding the fiber information to the notes and slides when I get a chance!

Also available

  • Quizlet Trace Evidence Vocab Set - Available to use for review at the end of the unit.

  • Microscope Basics Resources - Digital and traditional lessons introducing microscopy to students, which can be used prior to the hair & fiber evidence labs.

  • Hair & Fiber ID Student Lab Worksheet (pdf) - Students use microscopes to draw pictures of 6 hair and 6 fiber samples.

    • NOTES: I use a thermal laminator and pouches to make ready-to-view slides using hairs students bring in from their pets/livestock.My collection includes cat, dog, ferret, rabbit, cow, pig, horse, and deer along with several human samples.  I also made fiber "slides" using samples from Flinn Scientific. See my Supply Companies & Supply List for more information.

  • Hair & Fiber Challenge (pdf) - These images have been used fo past challenges during the hair and fiber unit. I used my microscope camera to capture images of the various hairs and fibers the students observed in class. I printed several sets of this worksheet on card stock and laminated them to keep them for future classes. I challenge the students to use their notes and observation pages to identify each one.

Back to top

Unit 5: Blood Basics - UPDATED 2024  - During this unit students learn the basics of blood and how it can be used as evidence.

Part A:  Blood Basics - Investigates the composition of blood and blood types. I use simulated blood samples purchased from a science supply company.  See my Supply List for more information.

Part B:  Blood Spatter - Investigates  bloodstain pattern analysis, and includes labs for students to investigate how blood evidence can be used in a crime investigation. See my Supply List for more information regarding supplies for this lesson.

Also available ...

Unit Vocab - Quizlet Blood Evidence vocab set

Blood Typing Booklet - Thanks to Christina Beatty for sharing her booklet that she uses with her students to help them understand blood typing.  Materials available:  Blood Typing Booklet, Booklet Cut-Outs, and Booklet Key


Back to top


Forensic Entomology - UPDATED 2024  - During this unit students learn the science involved in using insects as evidence.

Part A:  Introduction to Forensic Entomolog

Part B:  Crime Solving Insects (PDF) - This project from the 4-H organization provides a wealth of information for teaching forensic entomology.  The resources listed below were developed for use with this project.

Part C:  Chicken Farm Experiment - This activity is modeled after the Body Farm in Tennessee and involves "burying" chicken legs different ways to observe insect populations and decomposition.

Unit Vocab - Quizlet Forensic Entomology vocab set


Other Online Resources:

Lessons That Rock - Grow Your Own Maggots - Check out this site for a video outlining how to grow your own maggots.

Crime Scene Insects - Explore the material and activities in this unit to find ideas to incorporate into your unit or learn more on your own.

Visible Proofs: Entomology in Action - This lesson introduces students to the blow fly's life cycle and the accumulated degree hour (ADH) used by forensic entomologists for estimating the time of death.

Trendy Science Teacher - Body Farm lesson - Learn more about how to set up your own "body farm"; resources available for purchase to go along with the lesson

Smell That? Body Farm Lesson - Explore this Science Friday lesson (with printable worksheets) to introduce the Body Farm to your students.

Biology Corner Body Farm article - Download the article and related questions to learn more about the Body Farm.

CSI Final Project (aka Crime Scene in a Box) - I use this activity at the end of their 8th-grade year to give students a chance to apply what they have learned during their forensic science lessons from 6th - 8th grade.   The students love sharing their crime scenes designed to fit within a box (paper box size or smaller) and I love keeping them engaged until the very last day of school!  The materials below can be used digitally or printed.

Also available ...

GimKit Forensic Science Review
Quizlet Forensic Science Vocab


Tranditional Units (Not available in digital format yet!)


During this lesson students learn about the use of chromatography in crime investigations and use paper chromatography to test black markers. At the end of the unit, I use four of the tested markers to create a Mystery Pen challenge. The students test the four mystery markers and compare them to the samples they previously tested. The challenge is set up as a race to see which student team can be the first to correctly identify them.

PresentationChromatography (PPT)
WorksheetChromatography Notes (PDF)


Also available ...

STEAM Mini: Chromatography - This is one of my "mini" projects developed for use with my STEAM classes.  Students investigate chromatography techniquest along with  Permanent Marker Chromatography - We used permanent markers and rubbing alcohol to "decorate" our lab aprons or white t-shirts that the students brought to class.

Back to top


DNA Evidence

During this unit students learn about DNA and its use in forensic science. After discussing the information on the reference card, students create DNA keychains, which are used for an identification activity in which students have to match their keychains with a paper model. Other lessons and activities are listed below.

PresentationDNA Evidence (PPT) 
Student Worksheet:  DNA Evidence (PDF)

Reference Card
:  DNA Evidence (PDF)

Other Resources:

PBS Learning Media - Forensics - A great lesson with links to additional project ideas from their archives. Use their site search to find a wealth of resources!

Who Ate the Cheese - Students simulate electrophoresis and DNA fingerprinting to solve a crime.

DNA Resources - Check out the collection of links available at the site for activities investigating DNA.

Also check out the online activites and information on the Forensic Science page of the Sites for Students area.



Forensic Anthropology (Updated Feb 2024)

During this unit, students learn to identify the main bones in the human body as well as investigate the role of forensic anthropologists in crime solving.  The presentation includes links to several online videos along with other information and two activities. 

Introductory Presentation: Bone Basics (PPT)

Student Worksheet:  Bone Basics (PDF) & Skeleton Worksheet (PDF)

Activity Materials

  • Bag O' Bones - I purchased sets of bones from an online company for use with this activity.  You will also need large butcher paper. 

  • Bone Challenge - I prepared several sets of the skeleton cut-outs.  You will also need blindfolds for the students and timers.

Other Resources:

Forensic Files Past Lives (PDF)-  This episode from Forensic Files fits well with the anthropology unit as it involves the investigation of human remains by Dr. Bill Bass.  Students complete the worksheets as they watch the Past Lives episode from Forensic Files DVD. The DVD set is available for rent from Netflix and may be found at online stores.

Kids Discover - Bones Magazine - A great resource available from the Kids Discover store that provides a good background of information about bones, joints, and much more.  I purchaed a set of 15 for the students to use in pairs and created a worksheet to use with the magazine.


Arson Investigation

Through the help of our local fire department, students explore the basics of fire science and arson investigation. I also include lessons on fire safety and reinforce the fact that playing with fires can cause major damage and deaths. If possible, have a member of your local fire department present a fire safety program for your students.

PresentationFire Science (PPT)
WorksheetFire Science (PDF)

Reference CardFire Science Card (PDF) - This two-sided handout replaces the worksheet for the Fire Science lesson.

Unit ReviewFire Basics Review (PDF) and Fire Basics Review Answer Key (PPT) - Thanks to Christopher Hunter for sharing these materials.

Unit Assessment
Fire Basics Quiz (PDF) - Thanks to Christopher Hunter for sharing this quiz.

Other Resources:
20/20 Arson Investigation (PDF)
- Thanks to Dana Long for sharing this video and worksheet that investigates the science of arson investigation. Update 2016:  The video is available at
Flame Test
Flame Test Video at YouTube

Back to top

Accident Reconstruction

During this unit students investigate Newton's Laws of Motion to analyze an accident scene to determine the sequence of events that lead up to the accident, explain damage resulting from the accident, and "solve" cases. I use activities from CRASH: The Science of Collisions, which is geared towards the high school level, but several of the activities targeting Newton's Laws can be used at the junior high level. Our district purchased the CRASH kit and I shared it with the high school physics teacher. Many of the lessons could also be incorporated into driver's education classes. Use the contact form on their website to see if your high school can receive the program for free! 

Note: The Physics of Car Crashes book  is available if you are not able to purchase the full CRASH unit. The book is filled with great ideas to use for an accident reconstruction unit.

Back to top

CSI Adventure (GPS)

I developed this geocaching activity for use with the CSI summer camp program at the Smithsonian in DC. For this activity, teams of students use GSP receivers to find 10 "evidence" caches. Each cache contains a cache card with 3-4 questions the students must answer or tasks they need complete. Each cache has a different theme and relate to the material the students investigated during the camp. After a team completes a cache and has all the correct answers, they are provided with a clue card that will help them determine the next waypoint in the adventure.

Teacher Information (PDF), CSI Adventure Presentation (PPT), Cache Cards (PDF), Clue Cards (PDF), Group Answer Sheet (PDF), Answer Key (PDF)

Back to top


Also available ...

Supply List - An overview of the materials purchased for the Forensic Science curriculum.

Lesson Plan Links for Forensic Science
Links to my favorite online resources for lesson plans, activities, and worksheets.


| Back to top |


Privacy Policy

© 1999-2024
The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL.  Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences.  Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.