About Forensics in the Classroom

Welcome to truTV's Forensics in the Classroom (FIC) Program

What is FIC?
As part of its ongoing commitment to education, truTV is pleased to bring forensics to high school science classrooms nationwide. This FREE, exciting new program conforms to nationally recognized standards and was developed as part of a continuing educational partnership with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

New for this year we are proud to add two units - one for middle school, the other for high school - that were also developed in collaboration with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The NSTA is the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching.

By incorporating key scientific concepts and lab experiments into creative, forensic-based mysteries and activities, FIC provides a way to engage and teach students about the expanding and fascinating world of forensic science.

How to Use Forensics in the Classroom
The FIC program is designed for use in high school and middle school science classrooms. This complete, standards-based package includes five stand-alone units, each centered on a unique, realistic mystery. The lessons and activities are flexible and modifiable, so you can tailor each unit to fit your classroom schedule and style. The classroom activities involve simple lab experiments and align with nationally recognized standards and safety requirements. The units can be taught as introductions to basic chemistry ideas and forensic techniques, or used as creative ways to review information you've already covered. The FIC units vary in length and are labeled according to level of difficulty, allowing you to select the unit that best meets your classroom needs.

Each unit includes:
• A unit overview
• Nationally recognized standards that apply
• A list of required materials
• Pages containing Forensics Terms and Frequently Asked Questions
• Introductory and background information
• Student handouts that introduce the storyline and direct the associated lab activities and procedures
• The complete mystery
• Instructions on how to create a final Investigative Finding Report
• Desired outcomes for the unit
• Additional sources of forensics information
• Extension activities for additional labs and research along with information on how this material can be applied to other subject areas
• The activities also provide different ways for you to assess student progress – via successful completion of lab experiments and an official Crime Lab Report write-up. The program also features a "Forensics Basics" sheet, which outlines the evolution of Forensic Science and explains how it is used today to help solve cases.

Unit Mystery Overview:

The Cafeteria Caper: The cafeteria at Park Haven H.S. was trashed, and the evidence left behind bears a suspicious similarity to the initiation rights of an underground club. Students conduct an enzymes test, as well as hair, blood and DNA analysis to find out who's responsible.

It's Magic!: Who snatched Magic, the award-winning pooch, from his master's home? To find out, students perform handwriting analysis, a pH test and paper chromatography.

The Celebration: A city's football victory prompts some excessive celebration, and police are called. Students must run a gunshot residue test on various clothing samples from people at the scene in order to determine who may have fired a weapon.

The Car That Swims: A car is found at the bottom of a river. How did it get there and to whom does it belong? Students must use footprint casting and scientific reasoning to see through a young girl's shaky explanation and get to the bottom of the story.

Renters Beware: A makeshift chemistry laboratory, strange vials of liquid, and a money-hungry landlord all combine to create this puzzle. To solve the mystery, students will first use a flame test to determine the contents of the vials, then a Kastle-Meyer test and fingerprint matching to find the owner of the lab and uncover the plot.

How to access the materials:
To download and print the FIC materials, please return to the home page and click on the desired unit(s). You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to complete this function. For a free copy of this tool, click on the icon below.


The following information addresses questions and concerns you may have about the Forensics in the Classroom program:

1. How do these materials tie into science curricula?
Though mysteries for students to investigate are an exciting part of these materials, the true core of the materials centers on concepts and skills that are already emphasized in a science classroom. The units serve as bridges between science and real-life applications related to forensic investigations. As a result, the materials engage students by showing them how the structure of atoms, interactions of energy and matter, and chemical reactions all help to solve crimes.

The activities also require students to act as investigators, so they must engage in many of the processes necessary for a Science-as-Inquiry approach. At various points, students must gather data, think critically and logically about relationships between evidence and explanations, construct and analyze alternative explanations, and communicate scientific arguments.

2. Does each unit contain a lab activity?
Yes. Each unit contains at least two different lab activities. The labs may be ones you already planned to do at some point during the school year. By having an unsolved investigation to act as an impetus for the labs, students are more likely to be engaged in the process and see a real-world application of each activity. Each unit describes the nature of its labs in the Teacher Overview section.

3. Will I need to purchase any special lab equipment or materials in order to complete any of the labs?
The labs were developed with a typical classroom laboratory in mind. You may, however, need to purchase some additional materials (such as plaster of paris or dental stone) or compounds that you don't have in stock. One lab also requires students to supply their own empty 2 liter bottles. If you have access to supplemental chemistry materials and equipment, many of the labs also include suggestions for ways to extend the activities further.

4. Do my students have to complete all three units back-to-back?
No. Each unit is stand-alone and designed so you can use it when it fits best in your classroom curriculum. Although the Forensics Terms and FAQ sheet can be used for each unit, students are introduced to new forensic techniques in each of the lab activities. So, you can have your students complete all three units without fear of repetition.

5. Forensic science and investigation can sometimes be gruesome. Do any of the mysteries center on subject matter that is inappropriate for classroom use?
truTV has taken great care in developing materials that avoid those aspects of forensic science that would not be appropriate in a high school classroom setting. The network followed Cable in the Classroom (CIC) guidelines in developing the materials, so you can be confident that the subject matter is suitable for classroom use.

CIC represents the cable and telecommunications industry's commitment to improve teaching and learning for children in schools, at home, and in communities. This is the only industry-wide philanthropic initiative of its kind. Since 1989, 8,500 cable companies and 39 cable networks have provided free access to commercial-free, educational cable content and technologies to 81,000 public and private schools, reaching 78 percent of K-12 students. For more information about CIC, visit their Web site at http://www.ciconline.org.

6. Are these materials appropriate for students of differing abilities?
Each unit is labeled according to its level of difficulty. Unit 1 is the easiest of the three, while Unit 3 is the most difficult. The varying degrees of difficulty should allow you to match the materials with the abilities of your students. Each lesson also includes academic modifications and extensions so that it can be adapted to better suit your classroom needs and your students' abilities.

7. Where can I learn more about forensic science?
The web site for the American Academy of Forensic Sciences includes a Resource/Forensics section that provides additional links to forensic publications and organizations.

Provided by the Tennessee Criminal Law Defense Resources, this site provides definitions and web site links for many fields within the broad umbrella of forensic investigations.

Part of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's web site, this is a link to the FBI's journal on forensic science.


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