Introduction to Forensic Science

Aim: What is forensic science?

Foundations of CSI:
Forensic ScienceObjectives: Students will be able to:
1) Explain the importance of maintaining a crime scene.
2) Understand the role science plays in analyzing criminal evidence.

Motivation: A simple crime scene should be set up in the classroom. As students enter, they should be encouraged to physically walk among and examine objects in the scene by picking them up. Discuss how the scene has now been contamined and the evidence may no longer have probative value.

Lesson: Show the video clip “Crime Solving 200 Years Ago” and discuss how crimes were solved in the past. Then, screen part two of the video to show how this same crime would be solved today using the scientific method. Why is it important to be methodical in a forensic investigation?

Introduce the basic concepts of forensics using a Power Point demo.

Background: To put forensic science in simply layman’s terms: it is the application of scientific procedures in conjunction with the law. Forensic science is the umbrella term for a collection of scientific procedures that can be employed when it comes to providing evidence that a crime has been committed and also provides ways and means of proving how a crime has been committed.
In its simplest form it can be a means by which fingerprints, fibers, DNA and bodily fluids can be collected and stored — without contamination — so that they can be later used as evidence in a police investigation into a specific crime, or series of crimes.

In the last two decades forensic science has seen many important discoveries made and has had many different procedures added to its remit in order to aid in the detection of criminals and also in proving the innocence of people suspected of crimes they did not commit.

Indeed without forensic science it is fair to say that many of the crimes that are committed today in our world would go unsolved and most definitely unpunished if it were not for these advances.

Forensic science has now become a scientific study in its own right and now includes some of the world’s most important discoveries as part of its remit. These include:

DNA coding
Toxicology – the study of drugs and their effects on the human body
Serology – the study of bodily fluids
Ballistics – the study of firearms
In addition to these studies forensic science also looks at time of death, cause of death and how a body is disposed of. It also takes into account the fact that bodies many not necessarily have died where they are located and techniques within the field can provide definitive proof of this through soil analysis, examination and categorising of various pollens, and many other factors such as temperature and weather conditions.

It is fair to say that forensic science has become one of the most important areas of scientific study of the 20th and 21st century and will remain so for a long time to come.

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