Topic outline

  • Forensics Elective

    This is a senior elective course that introduces students to the basics of Forensic Science.


    All student grades can be accessed online using Infinite Campus.  Students are encouraged to check their grades weekly for current grade percentages and to monitor missing work.

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Forensics

    This unit introduces the basic fields of forensics, the history of forensics, the CSI Effect and the difference between private vs. public labs.

  • Unit 2: Crime Scene Investigation

    This unit discusses the steps to processing a crime scene, how to properly package evidence, how to search a crime scene for evidence and maintaining chain of custody.

  • Unit 3: Friction Ridge Analysis

    This unit explores the 3 basic friction ridge patterns, the types of prints left at a crime scene, friction ridge minutae, revealing technqiues of latent prints and AFIS.

    • Unit: Hair

      This unit examines the use of hair in forensics and its ability (or inability) to be linked to a suspect.  It focuses on the difference between human and non human hair as well as first describing the basic parts of hair on a macroscopic and microscopic level.  A good introduction to trace evidence.  Also drives home the point between class vs. individualized evidence.

      • Unit: Blood Analysis

        This unit begins with presumptive testing methods such as the use of luminol and the Kastle Meyer test.  Students conduct a series of labs which teaches them about evidence gathering and determing on-scene if a sample is potentially blood.  Students also learn about the sensitivity of presumptive testing in a dilution lab and whether or not cleaning solutions are helpful to criminals trying to cover up blood after a violent crime.  The second half involves blood spatter analysis to determine areas of convergence, height and angle of impact.  Additionally students learn how height and surface as well as impact angle affect the appearance and shape of spatter.

        • Unit: DNA Analysis

          In this modern day unit on DNA fingerprinting, students are fortunate enough to conduct real world, college level labs using PCR machines on loan from Hudson Valley in order to determine which "suspect" is guilty of a given crime.  Students also conduct gel electrophoresis in order to analyze their PCR results, exposing students to how DNA is truly analyzed in the real world.  Students learn the history of DNA fingerprinting by learning about the RFLP method developed by Alec Jefferies.  The case study in this uint is on Colin Pitchfork who was the first person convicted using DNA results.

        • Unit: Document Analysis

          In this unit, students will analyze various handwriting samples including their own for unique characteristics that individualizes it from other sources.  Students will also conduct ink analysis on a variety of different makes of pen, looking for different chromatography patterns for distinction, as well as analyzing different types of typeset to determine which typewriter created a document.  Students will discuss the issues that come along with mass produced materials such as printer paper and computers.  A major case study to be explored in this unit is the Charles Lindberg Baby Kidnapping of 1934, which included the execution of Bruno Hauptmann.  His ransom notes were one of the major pieces of evidence linking him to the kidnapping however evidence may suggest he did not act alone.  Students compare and contrast evidence against/for Bruno in two films, one by NOVA and the other by HBO.

        • Forensic Pathology

          This unit studies unnatural or unexplained deaths and the steps involved in an autopsy.  We explore the stages of decomposition and how algor mortis, rigor mortis and lividity help determine time of death.