Plaster Casts

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In this activity, learners combine two substances (plaster of Paris and water) to make a cast of an object's imprint in clay. Use this activity to introduce learners to how scientists and detectives can use plaster casts to preserve animal tracks, tire tracks, or footprints left in soft dirt or mud. This activity, located on page 2 of the PDF, is a take-home version of the display of the same name in the Crime Scene Chemistry unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. This is one of three activities in the Take Home guide for the Crime Scene Chemistry unit in OMSI's Chemistry Lab. The PDF includes two additional activities: Latent Prints and Invisible Ink.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • item to cast: finger, shoe, shell, small toy
  • oil based modeling clay
  • cereal box cut into two 2-inch wide strips
  • 2 paper clips
  • paper cup, or disposable mixing container
  • 2 tablespoons plaster of Paris
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • fork or mixing stick


  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science as a Career

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation