Exploring Fingerprints

No two fingerprints are exactly alike. But why are they different and how do forensic scientists use them to solve crimes? In this lesson, we took a close look at the unique features of fingerprints. Students learned that fingerprints come in 3 basic varieties: arch, loop, and whorl. The majority of people have loops, while only 4% of the population has arches. Fingerprinting has been used to catch criminals for over 100 years. Plastic, patent, and latent prints are three types of fingerprint evidence that can be found at a crime scene. Students even had a chance to try their skill at taking their own fingerprints and learned how to dust and lift prints. Perhaps a career in forensics is in your student’s future?

Explorando huellas dactilares

No existen dos huellas digitales idénticas; pero ¿por qué? y ¿cómo los científicos forenses las utilizan para resolver crímenes? En la clase de hoy, observamos en detalle las características de las huellas dactilares. Los estudiantes aprendieron que las huellas presentan 3 patrones distintos: arcos, espirales y bucles. La mayoría de las personas tienen espirales, mientras que sólo el 4% de la población tiene arcos en sus huellas. La toma de huellas dactilares ha sido utilizada para atrapar criminales por más de 100 años. Hay diferentes tipos de huellas dactilares que se pueden encontrar en una escena del crimen, las denominadas “plásticas”, “patentes y “latentes”. Los estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de probar sus habilidades al tomar sus propias huellas dactilares, y además aprendieron cómo “levantar” huellas usando polvo. ¡Quizá, ahora su hijo o hija se interese en las ciencias forenses!


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Dr. Maureen Griffin

Maureen earned a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. While at Penn, she developed a novel micro-mechanical technique called micropipette peeling to investigate the role of muscle cell adhesion in normal and diseased skeletal muscle cells. After graduating, Maureen worked full time as a post-doctoral researcher and then a staff scientist a SelectX Pharmaceuticals. She joined the teaching staff in 2008 and was excited to be made an executive staff member in 2009. Maureen also continued to consult part time for SelectX until her daughter's birth in 2009; now she is focused on Science from Scientists and, of course, her children. Maureen uses her spare time to read, blog, cook, and renovate her house.

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