Crime scene investigation is a fun school and study topic for children, teaching them about a fascinating part of law enforcement work. A crime scene investigation project also offers children a chance to make use of some of the skills that they learn in other subjects. By learning how to write up reports, dust for fingerprints, interview witnesses and document the evidence, skills learnt in areas, such as language arts, science and basic organisation skills, are put to practical use.
Learning how to interview witnesses or suspects in a fake crime scene teaches critical thinking skills as well as basic interaction and communication skills. Have children come up with a list of questions for possible scenarios. Pair up or place the children in a group so that they can practice asking and answering questions. To make the event more interesting, you can give predetermined scenarios for children and have them use interview skills to figure out the fictional crime. The children playing the witnesses or suspects can attempt to evade or mislead the their interviewers.
Teaching children how to dust for fingerprints on everyday objects is a fun science-based project. You can take fingerprints from each child with an ink pad and compare them to fingerprints lifted from flat surface objects, such as coffee mugs, glasses and table tops. Have a "dossier" for each child and have them compare fingerprints or try to match up fingerprints found on the objects with the fingerprints of other students. Include a discussion on the types of fingerprints and their characteristics, such as whorls, spirals and cuts.
Fingerprints are not the only distinctive physical traits of a person that can leave a mark. Teeth impressions are useful for forensic dentistry and sometimes are the only recourse for identifying a person. Have children take a bite of soft cheese or thick chocolate and try to identify the individual who took the bite by comparing the impressions left behind.
Documentation and Presentation
Have the children assemble all of their information about a case or project in a file. Include all aspects of the investigation and the study, including fingerprints, interviews, photos, observations, detailed notes and teeth impressions. Having children write down their conclusions helps them with language and writing skills, as well as teaches them how to communicate their thoughts and conclusions. Learning basic presentation skills is also a useful skill for projects and reports.