Fingerprinting, Forensic Science and Magnifiers: Magnification Activity

Elementary, my dear teacher! Turn your classroom into a crime scene and your students into detectives! Learning can be mysterious as students search for clues using simple tools and enhanced listening skills. Classroom items have disappeared - can your students follow the clues to solve the mystery?

Start by unraveling the mystery of fingerprints. What is a fingerprint? Where can we find fingerprints? What can we learn from collecting fingerprints?

Create Tactile Fingerprints

Each student will create a tactile print of his/her index finger.

  • On the back of a small paper plate, have each student write his name
    • Modifications: add a brailled name label if a braille student is in the class
  • Place a small ball of Crayola Magic Clay on each paper plate
  • Have each student flatten their ball 
  • Have each student carefully press his/her index finger into the clay

Identifying Types of Fingerprints Pictures of 10 actual fingerprints and simple line drawing of identifying characteristic: arch, whorl, loop, etc.

Using the Fingerprint Patterns document, teach students about the various types of basic fingerprints.  

Note: The fingerprint handouts are visual in nature and not fully accessible.  The classroom teacher, TVI or braillist will need to modify these documents.

Modifications: Create a braille/tactile version of this worksheet, using the APH Tactile Graphics Kit (for the actual fingerprint) and Wikki Styks for the simple corresponding diagram.  (When creating the tactile fingerprints, I enlarged the image and did four fingerprints per page.)

To prepare for the self-advocacy skills in the next activity, the teacher can name a type of fingerprint and have each student in the class quickly create the Wikki Styks version of the fingerprint. The student with visual impairments should be prepped ahead of time or simply reminded on how to guide his/her peers to provide verbal clarification of any visual aspect of the activity.

Magnifying Tools Activity

Break the students into small groups. Using the clay fingers prints from the activity above, have the students study the fingerprints using various magnification tools. Teachers of the Visually Impaired have a variety of magnification tools that can be used for this activity - including hand-held and stand magnifiers, video magnifiers, etc. Try various smart phones and tablets - each will have built-in magnification, zoom feature, and free magnification apps. Try taking using the device's camera to take a picture and then zoom or magnify the picture. Does lighting make it easier or harder to see the fingerprint details? How about inverting the color?  Compare the different devices and discuss which device works best and why. Remember, different students may prefer different devices! Older students may designed a "detective" to write down notes of the results.  These "notes" should be created on a tablet and then shared electronically with everyone in the group.  (Electronic notes are accessible for students who are visually impaired and blind.)

TVI Hint:  This is a great inclusive activity for the whole class to learn about magnification devices and how to use these devices and your low vision student just may embrace these low vision tools!

If you have a student in the class who is visually impaired or blind, this is a great opportunity for your student to ask guiding questions to his/her peers about each fingerprint. Be sure to provide Wikki Styks or other means so that the peers (not an adult!) can quickly make a simple tactile representative of the fingerprint being examined. To encourage active participation between group members, an adult should not be seated at the table. The classroom teacher can monitor the interactions and can model how to ask guided questions, if absolutely necessary, as the VIB student learns to interact with his/her peers.

Note: Even though the clay fingerprints are tactile, it may be challenging for a blind student to pick out the distinguishing characteristics. If a peer creates a Wikki Styk version of the fingerprint, the student with VIB can also identify and participate in the activity.) Reverse the activity! If a peer identifies the fingerprint as a "whorl" have the blind student create a "whorl" with the Wikki Styks!

Teacher Resources

*Note:  These Fingerprint worksheets are visual in nature and will require modification for braille readers.

Magnification collage

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