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Categorizing Prints

(From Koch, J (2010). Science Stories: Science Methods for Elementary and Middle School Teachers.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, p. 321)

for each person
Main Ideas:

Students will recognize that all fingerprints are different

Everyone has a different fingerprint. Categorize each students
fingerprint to see the differences.


Show a video of how police use fingerprints. Demonstrate

how to make a graphite print.
Students will create their own fingerprint set.


Students will recognize how their fingerprints are different from

their classmates.


This lesson will allow the students to examine the fingerprints

that they have created to categorize and determine which
fingerprint matches between a number of different fingerprints.


Students will have their own set of their fingerprints and they
will identify the number of arches, loops, and whorls in their

Grade: 6

Activity: Categorizing Fingerprints

Goals/Key questions
Goals: Students will analyze their fingerprint patterns compared to other
Objective (connected to PofS): Students will know what type of fingerprints
they have and that they are different from others.

Pre lesson Considerations

Lesson overview of main ideas to be learned and prelearning required:
We all have fingerprints
Materials needed/preset up required/logistical considerations needed
(seating arrangement):
Paper Towel

Master 9
Clear Tape (approximately 2 cm wide)

What is the teacher doing?

10 min

Activity 1
Time est:
20 min

Show fingerprint video found at
Ask students how do they know it was
those men? They found their fingerprints
but how did they know the prints belonged
to the guilty men who were captured?
Bring to the students attention that
fingerprints are different for each person.
Explain that fingerprints are still viable
after scarring or burning.
Have materials ready in order to
demonstrate taking a graphite print.
Demonstrate taking a graphite print.
Using a pencil, students scribble on a piece
of scrap paper to create a dense area of
graphite, approximately three centimeters
square. This will be an ink pad.
Rub one finger at a time on the graphite
pad, and press the coated finger onto a
clear piece of tape. Use the pad, rather
than the tip, of the finger.
The tape is then transferred onto a second
piece of scrap paper, and is patted down to
reveal the print.
Show the instructions on the smart board.

What are the

students doing?
Watch the video
presented. Think
critically about the
questions the teacher
poses. Have a small
discussion about the
use of fingerprints in
police work.

Students should
practice until they are
able to make a clear,
smudge and wrinklefree print. The ridges of
the print should be
clearly evident.
After making each
print, students should
wipe their fingers clean
of graphite before
making the next one.
After practicing,
students make a
complete set of their
own prints and place
them on Master #9.
Students total the
number of prints they
(personally) have of

each pattern and

record it on Master #9.

Activity 2
Time Est:
10 min

Introduce the four patterns of fingerprints

to the students.


Collect Master #9 from each student. Take

pictures of good fingerprints for next
lesson. What makes fingerprints different?
There is a deposit of moisture, salt and oil
on your skin and the ridges of your finger
tips. When we touch things, the oil on our
fingers leaves a print mark in the pattern
of the ridges of our finger prints.

Time Est: 5

Discuss and compare students results with

the class. Using the four types of
fingerprints. Refer back to the original
question Are all fingerprints of an
individual the same pattern?

Students identify what

fingerprint types they
find with their own
fingerprints. Students
collect data on the total
number of print
patterns for five other
students and graph the
information on Master
Students clean their
stations and return all
materials to the back

Assessment: Class discussion about fingerprints. Identifying fingerprint types on

students fingerprints handouts.

Accommodations/Modifications: Show personal scar on teachers thumb and how the

fingerprint is still visible and unchanged.
Extension and extra time activity: Have students collect data on more students to
create a greater database.
Reflection on how the lesson went.
1. What did the students learn from this lesson? What assessment evidence did
I collect?
The students learned what fingerprints are. They learned how to take a
fingerprint and examine it to see which fingerprint type their fingerprints are.
Each student handed in their fingerprint sheets to have pictures taken of a good
fingerprint for the next lesson. Each fingerprint set was then looked over by
myself to see how well they took their fingerprints and whether they classified
their prints tomorrow. This allowed me to plan my next lesson to go over these
principles once again.
2. How do I know the students were actively engaged with the lesson?
The students were engaged in a good discussion with the video in the beginning
and they were very interested in taking their own fingerprints. Many had trouble
with the tape but they worked hard and every student finished taking their
fingerprints. There was a great discussion with the second class about the data we
collected regarding fingerprint types. The fist class was unable to reach this part of
the lesson but well do it in the next lesson.
3. How closely did I follow my lesson plan? Did I have to modify during the
lessons? Why?
I followed my lesson plan pretty carefully but I had forgotten that one of my
lesson periods is shorter than the other so I was not able to finish the whole
lesson with the first group. This worked out well though because tomorrow the
classes are in the different order so the one class that got more time gets less
time tomorrow so Ill add the part the other class missed today to their lesson
4. What do I think was the most effective part of the lesson?
I think the most important part of the lesson was the graphing of the class data and
talking about the different types of fingerprints and the frequency they showed up
in the classroom. The first class didnt get to this point in the lesson but the
discussion that came from the second class made it more meaningful for me and for
the class. It was awesome.
5. Were the materials/technology appropriate? Why or why not?
Using pencils and graphite to make an inkpad worked really well because every

student has a pencil and the graphite is not as staining or permanent as ink. The
fact that each student could then make their own inkpad allowed the activity to flow
better and every student was engaged.
6. What would I change/keep the same the next time I do this lesson?
With the second class I had the students work together more and help each other
with the tape. This brought less confusion and chaos. The activity went faster and
more smooth with this little addition. I noticed there were little instructional things
that I changed that allowed the class to go smoother. I had the students come to
one table as I demonstrated what needed to be done. This kept them away from
distractions so they could know the steps needed to take a successful print.
7. What do I see as my teaching strengths in this lesson?
Ive gotten very good at noticing what works and what doesnt work and adapting
my lesson according to those needs. This also has allowed me to plan my lessons
with certain students in mind and how I can make the lesson as engaging as
possible for every student.
8. A goal I would like to have my TA assist me in reaching is....
Helping me see the modifications that I can make before the first lesson so that
each time I teach is just as good so the second class doesnt get a better more
comfortable lesson.