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    Twin Cities Public Television

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In this physical sciences activity, learners explore how forensic investigators collect prints from a crime scene. Learners make hand impressions in damp sand and analyze the patterns they observe. Learners also set up mock crime scenes and analyze thumbprints and shoe prints.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • sand
  • (optional) 1 large tarp covered with a layer of sand, a sand volleyball court, or natural sandy area
  • 1 sturdy plastic container (at least 3 in. deep)
  • 1 ruler or tape measure
  • water
  • 1 magnifying glass
  • 1 towel for wiping off hands and feet
  • paper and pencils


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Biodiversity
    • Human Body
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities

Culture, ethnicity, and gender

  • Girls

    • Explicity developed for this group
    • Acknowledges this group's contributions to STEM
    • Highlights STEM opportunities for this group
    • Identifies role models or mentors in STEM fields from this group
    • Uses inclusive images of people from this group


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Twin Cities Public Television, Inc., ©2013

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, DRL-1114739
  • L'Oreal USA For Girls in Science
  • Northrop Grumman Foundation
  • PPG Industries Foundation


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