Forensic Science: Bugs, Maggots And DNA

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Don’t leave any goodies behind at the crime scene. Bag the bugs. Collect the maggots, and don’t EVER leave a ransom note! Forensic science — it’s better than ever!

Bones lay exposed in a dark wooded area.

When you find a body, you need to collect every bit of evidence. Don’t forget the maggots!

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Discussion Questions

  1. How do maggots help forensic entomologists narrow the time of death of a corpse?
  2. How could maggots “tip off” crime scene investigators, telling them the deceased may have been murdered?
  3. What kinds of clues can documents supply to a criminal investigation? Discuss handwriting, word choice, punctuation, hand “control,” personality analysis, ultraviolet light analysis, radiocarbon dating and Photoshop manipulation. Are these clues considered high or low quality evidence in court? Why?

Lesson Plans/Activities

  1. Solve it! In this online activity, students collect forensic clues from a crime scene to solve a murder case. Recommended for grades 7-9.
  2. Do the lab work! Students complete a fun, online DNA fingerprinting-collecting DNA, using restriction enzymes, running a gel, developing the film and analyzing the resulting data to finger the culprit. For grades 7-12.
  3. Make some DNA! The basic molecule of genetics is the key to many forensic investigations. Here’s your chance to build DNA from the bottom up. For grades 6-9.