Forensic Science: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Forensic science is the use of different kinds of science to solve crimes. This lesson will teach you about forensic science, what forensic scientists do, how their work is used and some other interesting facts.

What is Forensic Science?

You just put your favorite chocolate bar on the kitchen counter. You then leave the room for a minute, but when you come back, a big bite is missing! You want to catch the criminal, so you look at the clues. The chocolate bar has a fingerprint melted into it and the bite marks have funny, jagged edges. You also notice that the back door is open, but it wasn't when you first left the room. You go outside and see your brother and his friends playing. Your brother has something brown stuck in his braces when he laughs, so you walk over and see that he also has chocolate on his thumb. You've solved the crime of the sneaky chocolate chomper using evidence the way a forensic scientist would!

Forensic science is a kind of science that uses many different scientific methods to look at evidence, solve crimes and resolve other issues dealing with the law. Forensic scientists also help explain scientific findings to judges, lawyers and people on juries.

Forensic science uses methods from different branches of science including biology, chemistry and physics to help investigate and understand the evidence. Let's take a look!

Looking at Evidence

Evidence is items or facts presented in court to show the truth about what happened in a situation. A variety of evidence plays a part in the many different kinds of cases that go to court. Some of these cases include trying a criminal, like someone who robbed a bank, or deciding a lawsuit between two people involved in a car accident.

Forensic scientists are like scientists and detectives all rolled into one! While many forensic scientists deal with obtaining and analyzing evidence found at crime scenes, that is not all that they do. Some forensic scientists figure out how people died thousands of years ago, what bones belonged to what dinosaur and even what happened during crimes that happened a hundred years ago.

Using a chemical to find blood evidence
Using a chemical to find blood

Some of the evidence that forensic scientists look at to figure out what really happened include:

  • Fingerprints
  • Footprints
  • Blood
  • Hair
  • Tire tracks
  • Fibers from material
  • Handwriting
  • Bullets
  • Glass shards
  • Soil
  • Liquid and how it splattered if it spilled or splashed
  • Chemicals
  • DNA (chemical material that is unique to each person's body; it makes them who they are and can't be changed)

Using forensic science to compare bullet casings
Using forensic science to compare bullet casings

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