CTE Task: Fingerprint Simulation Lab

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Criminal Justice III


One hour


 Fingerprint Simulation Lab

Task Description


Students will:

  1. Watch the YouTube video, DIY Fingerprint Analysis (9:40) and complete the Fingerprint Analysis Activity Sheet.
  2. Send photograph of the Fingerprint Analysis activity results to teacher.


For the task, students will need:

White paper

Led Pencil

Clear tape

Light colored powder such as baby powder, face powder, or powdered sugar

Soft brush such as a make-up brush or paint brush

22) Explain the automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS), why it was developed, and how it is currently being utilized in law enforcement. Demonstrate the procedure for detecting fingerprints, developing latent prints, and preserving developed prints.

 Content Understandings

Extending Understandings

Upon successful completion of these tasks students will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Describe one critical skill required of fingerprint analysts.
  2. Name and describe three fingerprint patterns.
  3. Describe and demonstrate how to lift a fingerprint.

To move students towards deeper understanding, they should be given opportunities to:

  1. Research minutiae and its relationship to fingerprint identification and matching.
  2. Explore court cases in which fingerprint evidence led to the conviction.



Support Strategies

If students are struggling to access this task, additional supports and strategies could be employed as students are engaging with the task.

Key Terms

Sentence Frames

Scaffolded Questions

Latent fingerprint




Loops, whorls, arches

  1. The crime scene investigator dusts for ________ _________ which are fingerprints left behind when someone touches something.
  2. To expose latent fingerprints, the crime scene investigator _________ areas the perpetrator may have touched.
  3. All people have at least one, or a combination of, fingerprint patterns called _______, __________, and _______.
  1. Why do people have fingerprints?
  2. How can a latent fingerprint be used to link a suspect to a crime scene?
  3. What steps does a crime scene investigator use to expose latent fingerprints?



Resource Citation

MrLundScience, (2019, Mar.29), DIY Fingerprint Analysis [Video], YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhCoMYOrY6o

Student Resource

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Guided Notes for Watching DIY Fingerprint Analysis

Before you begin the video, collect the following items: lead pencil; white paper or note cards; shiny clear tape; light colored powder such as face powder, baby powder, or powdered sugar; a make-up brush or soft paint brush; something with a smooth surface such as a plate or glass (this will be your evidence)

  1. Every fingerprint is different in some way, even _________ _______ don’t have the same fingerprints.
  2. Follow directions starting at 2:20 in the video to get a print from EACH of your fingers and take a picture to share with me.
  1. Rub a pencil on a card or piece of paper until there is a really dark spot
  2. Rub your finger across the dark spot
  3. Take a piece of tape and place it on your finger over the graphite from the pencil
  4. Carefully remove the tape and place it on a white card or sheet of paper.

Note: Make sure to label each fingerprint with hand and finger, for example: Right hand, index finger.

  1. List the three main categories of fingerprints.
  2. Explain radial vs. ulnar loops
  3. Describe the whorl fingerprint
  4. Describe the arch fingerprint. What is so special about it?
  5. Look at your fingerprints and write the category for each. How many whorls, arches, and loops do you have?
  6. Follow the directions in the video starting at 6:24 to identify a fingerprint from a family member.
  1. Use the lead pencil method to gather fingerprints from a family member and label each print.
  2. Ask your family member to choose one finger to touch the evidence. (hint: Ask your family member rub their finger behind their ear before they touch the smooth item. This will help the fingerprint show up)
  3. Make sure your family member does not tell you which finger they used to touch your “evidence”.
  4. Sprinkle some powder on a separate plate.
  5. With your makeup brush, pick up a little bit of the powder.
  6. Gently sprinkle above where you think the print might be.
  7. Very gently brush powder back and forth until you start to see where a fingerprint might be (if you press too hard, you will remove the print, so barely touch the surface with your brush).
  8. Once you find the print, very gently brush the rest of the powder from around the fingerprint.
  9. Take a longer piece of tape about two or three inches and gently place the sticky side onto the fingerprint.
  10. Press the tape onto the fingerprint but don't smear the baby powder.
  11. Run a finger along the tape always going the same direction.
  12. Carefully remove the tape by lifting it off of the surface.
  13. Once you pull the tape off immediately transfer it onto clear surface like it was described earlier in the video.
  14. Place something dark behind the print you lifted, and see if you can determine which finger your family member used.
  15. Don’t forget to take a picture of both the evidence and the family member’s fingerprint example you match to the evidence.