This post is by Ali Wright of At Home With Ali.
The science of fingerprints is pretty cool…. each and every fingerprint is unique! No two people share the same fingerprints and even identical twins have different prints. This is why fingerprints are so useful in crime scene identification. The ridges, whorls and swirls that make up your fingerprints form when you are still a foetus. Their pattern is partly dependent on genetics and partly dependent on environmental factors such as the position of the foetus in the womb. Kids can be fascinated by the science of learning about fingerprints and playing fingerprint forensics is super fun. This is how to do it.
Recommended Age: 5+ years
You will need:
- Plain, white paper
- A lead pencil
- Clear sticky tape
- A magnifying glass
Grab a piece of paper and a lead pencil. Furiously scribble in a rectangle with your lead pencil. You need a good layer of graphite from the pencil. Once you have a nice coating on the paper rub your finger over the area of graphite.
Place a piece of sticky tape over the pad of your finger, which should be a lovely sheen of grey. Carefully peel off the sticky tape and stick it onto a white piece of paper. Repeat this process for all your fingerprints – don’t forget your thumbs!
Study your fingerprints with a magnifying glass. You can note down what you see – are all your fingerprints exactly the same? I know my fingerprints look very similar to each other but when I look really hard I can see some differences between them. Compare your fingerprints with another family member. I bet you will easily see some differences.
Time to Play Detective
This activity can be a simple scientific study for kids or you can turn it into a detective game. For the game you will need to create a book with a full set of fingerprint matches for each person in your house. Make sure you label each print with the name of the person and which finger it is. You will also need some extra fingerprints on a separate sheet of paper that can be cut out and left at a pretend crime scene.
The next step is to create a pretend crime scene. Maybe hide a toy and scatter some other toys around. Leave a fingerprint clue at the crime scene. Have your forensic detective investigate the crime scene. Once they find the fingerprint they will need to search through the fingerprint book to find a match. Hopefully the detective will identify the suspect and catch them!
Do your children enjoy mysteries and playing detective?