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DNA Forensics

DNA Forensics

The application of genetic testing for legal purposes

DNA forensics is a branch of forensic science that focuses on the use of genetic material in criminal investigation to answer questions pertaining to legal situations, including criminal and civil cases.

Materials for DNA Forensics

Articles/Research

Backlogs of Forensic DNA Evidence

Description: General information on backlogs of forensic evidence in crime laboratories

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)

Description: Information and fact sheets on the CODIS Unit

DNA Evidence Basics

Description: General information on DNA forensics

Enhanced Forensics - Establishing More Robust Methods for DNA-Based Forensic Analyses

Description: The National DNA Index in the United States now contains information from over 16 million people and has been used to aid in over 387,000 investigations. Find an engaging article, video, and links to explore this topic further.

Forensic Anthropology

Description: See what techniques forensic anthropologists use to read evidence from bones and their recovery to solve criminal cases.

Science in the Courtroom

Description: A judge on the Massachusetts Superior Court answers questions about DNA analysis in forensics and the challenges DNA science brings to the courtroom.

Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases (PDF 300.30 KB)

Description: Detailed information on forensic DNA testing technologies, databases, regulations, and more

Games

CSI - The Experience Web Adventure

Description: This is a game-like activity where kids can follow the experts from the TV show CSI to learn about how forensic science helps solve crimes.

Labs & Experiments

Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) with Powdery Mildew Fungi

Description: This exercise can be used to stimulate the investigative nature of your students as they use forensic plant pathology techniques with powdery mildew cleistothecia (the sexual stage of powdery mildew fungi) to prove their innocence in a mock murder investigation.

DNA Extraction

Description: A virtual DNA extraction laboratory experiment

Teacher Resources

DNA - A Molecular Identity (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson plan engages students in learning what DNA is and about different DNA profiling techniques. Students examine three real cases where DNA evidence was an essential component and evaluate the benefits and possible misuses of DNA information.

DNA, Crime and Law Enforcement (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: The collection and analysis of DNA is an important tool in law enforcement. This lesson explores the challenge of establishing ethical and legal frameworks in a timely manner to guide the use of newly developed technologies. A key question that is woven through this lesson is how we as a society can use genetics to keep people safe, solve crimes and, at the same time, develop policies that provide appropriate safeguards and privacy protections.

Entomology in Action (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Lesson plans and teaching aids on entomology

Forensics (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This module teaches shows students how DNA is analyzed by forensic scientists in order to link a DNA sample to a particular individual. To do this, forensic scientists use powerful molecular biology techniques such as PCR, restriction digests and gel electrophoresis. To learn more about DNA and how it is used by forensic scientists, students will isolate their own DNA from saliva. Using their new-found understanding of DNA and forensics techniques, students will help solve the case of the missing mascot.

Genomics and Human Identity - Sharks, Human Remains (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: In 2010, fishermen in the Bahamas caught a tiger shark with human remains in its stomach, but whose remains were they? Step-by-step questions guide students through the logical progression from analyzing forensic data to identifying the remains.

Using QR Codes in Forensic Science (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: In this lesson, students use mobile technology and knowledge of forensic science to research a crime case.

Video

Can Science Stop Crime

Description: A NOVA program on how science is being used to identify criminals and anticipate crimes before they happen

Enhanced Forensics - Establishing More Robust Methods for DNA-Based Forensic Analyses

Description: The National DNA Index in the United States now contains information from over 16 million people and has been used to aid in over 387,000 investigations. Find an engaging article, video, and links to explore this topic further.

Forensic DNA Analysis

Description: This video segment from the prime time science series, NOVA: "The Killer's Trail," follows a team of experts as they investigate the forensic evidence from the 1954 murder of Marilyn Sheppard, one of the most famous unsolved crimes in U.S. history.